By: William Lj Galaini
Published by: Evolved Publishing
Publication Date: April 2021
Reviewed By: Skyler Boudreau
Trampling in the Land of Woe is an adventure novel following the Greek hero Hephaestion as he traverses Hell in search of his king and lover Alexander the Great. Pulling from different areas of history and mythology, author William LJ Galaini takes his audience on a wild journey across time and religion as they follow Hephaestion on his quest to save Alexander from a torturous afterlife.
Galaini provides a colorful cast of characters to help Hephaestion throughout his journey. Hephaestion is also the narrator that readers will spend the majority of their time with throughout the story. An historical figure in Greek history, Hephaestion served as Alexander the Great’s general, close friend, and lover. While he is the clear hero of the novel, he is also deeply flawed in his blind devotion to Alexander. Even when he is confronted by other characters about this flaw, he vehemently denies it. It provides an interesting dynamic for the reader to explore.
Accompanying Hephaestion for the majority of his journey is Yitz, a denizen of Hell waiting for his son to finish serving his punishment. He experiences the most character development by far throughout the novel and serves as a more practical, grounding force to help guide Hephaestion through Hell. These characters are the driving force that keeps the plot moving forward.
Both Hephaestion’s and Yitz’s goals throughout Trampling in the Land of Woe are straightforward. Hephaestion wants to rescue Alexander and Yitz wants to find his son and let him know that he and his wife are waiting for him. These goals are what remain steadfast throughout the novel and keep the plot on track as Hephaestion and Yitz attract a plethora of enemies that try and stop them. This main plot provides most of the intrigue that keeps readers invested in the story. While the main plot does provide an interesting story, the setting is a more subtle aspect of the novel that can add an additional layer of dimension.
Beneath the action and the mythology, Trampling in the Land of Woe is, at its heart, an adventure novel. “The Land of Woe” mentioned in the title should be vivid and atmospheric. While Hell is certainly a vast landscape, and provides a place for the main characters to adventure, a strong setting requires more than location. Throughout the novel, “the politics of Hell” are constantly brought up by various characters. This was a fantastic opportunity to flesh out the setting, but it was not taken. Despite insisting these politics are an important part of everyday life for the denizens living there, the only elaboration readers receive is when they are told which groups of people dislike each other. The conflicts between these groups of people provide the main sub-plot, but they come across as very contrived and one-dimensional. Readers are never shown why these groups dislike each other.
Stripping everything else away from this novel and just looking at the overall writing, it’s obvious that a lot of time and care went into crafting the prose. Galaini easily transitions between the shorter, choppier sentences that add an additional intensity to the action scenes and the longer, more reflective writing he uses while portraying a character’s internal monologue. The words seem to come easily to him, and they provide a great base to build a story, and series, on. Trampling in the Land of Woe is the first novel in the Hellbound series. Starting off a series with a bang is always a challenge, but author William Galaini has tackled that challenge and offers readers a strong start to a fun and interesting series.
Quill says: An adventurer is certain to find something to enjoy about this novel as they traverse Hell alongside Hephaestus in search of Alexander.
For more information on Trampling in the Land of Woe (Hellbound series), please visit the author's website at: williamljgalaini.com