The first thing we noticed about Justan Hennerís writing is that he likes to take risks. Weíre a fan of risk taking if it works, and for the most part Justan pulled it off. The most noticeable risk he took was the size and scope of his first book, Deathís Merchant. It comes in at almost 1300 pages, has 14 points of view (that we counted), and over 100 characters with about 25 of them being prominent. He also took risks with tense. While most of the book is written in past tense (from a third person limited perspective), one of the main characters reverts to present tense on occasion. An omniscient narrator, who shows up in the first chapter and the last, uses past, present, and future tense. So Justanís first attempt at writing is about as complex as it can get in Epic Fantasy. Think Steven Erikson, Robert Jordan, or George R. R. Martin. We were pleasantly surprised that he pulled all the disparate pieces together and made it work.
Justanís strengths are clearly in his character building and humor. He combines the two in a way that is very enjoyable for the reader. Instead of simply relying on characters cracking jokes or spewing witty dialogue, Justan has his characters thinking and acting in humorous ways.
Justan also gets extra points in the prose and philosophy categories. You can find examples in our review of Deathís Merchant.
Justanís biggest weakness is that he didnít give us any characters that we could really, really, really hate. Heís got bad guys who do bad things, but we just want someone to really hate and Deathís Merchant didnít quite get us there.
Justanís ability to write such a complex book and make it thoroughly enjoyable (mainly through his characterization and humor) gets him a spot in our Must Read Authors list.