One Great Year tells the story of lovers Marcus and Theron and spurned suitor Helghul who are from the lost world of Atitala (Atlantis). Marcus and Theron take on the role of Emissary, spiritual guide and leader to guide the world through One Great Year, the countless millennia while the world moves from a dark Iron Age to turn once again to a Golden Age. Helghul acts as the counterbalance to this goal.
After the initial setup, for a good three quarters of this book I became increasingly frustrated and disengaged. My biggest issue was that I really, really didn’t like the protagonist, Marcus. He starts off the book as whiny and self absorbed, unable to look beyond the separation from his love. Several millennia and several cyclical regenerations later, the book finds him still whiny, still self absorbed and still obsessed with Theron. What made it worse for me was his neglect of his sacred duty as Emissary – I had the impression that, as far as he was concerned, the world could turn to custard if he could be with his Theron. I became really frustrated at the lack of character development for Marcus.
In terms of the other two main characters, Theron was portrayed as goodness personified, so there was much less scope for character development from her side. Helghul was your stereotypical evil overlord, except that I was frustrated that no solid reason for his actions were given at first. Rarely does evil do evil for evil’s sake, or at least those who do make singularly uninteresting villains. Usually, there is some solid reason, such as a desire for power or revenge.
Having said all that, this is all turned around in the last quarter of the book. The underlying themes and character arcs that had been building slowly finally came to the fore and elevated One Great Year from a mediocre YA romance to a well written, thought provoking narrative. I still can’t say I like Marcus any better, but I can appreciate his interesting character arc.
What I liked
The concept. I loved the basic concept of our characters being guides to lead the world through a cycle of a dark age. I also felt it was very well executed.
Interesting themes. Some of the themes explored in One Great Year are fascinating – these include, among others, the cosmic Balance, choice and free will, the cyclical nature of history and our world.
What I didn’t like
The slow character development and pacing. See above comments.
One Great Year is a book with which you may need to persevere. I personally felt the payoff in the last quarter of the book was worth it and gave One Great Year four stars out of five.