Written by: Matt Molgaard
Van Garrett’s tale of warring cannibalistic tribes and the slave owners they once bound together to overthrow is actually more about the conflict between the two groups and a subsequent bid for ultimate supremacy. In fact, while the backstory paints the Danes who once “owned” these people as repulsive, they ultimately play but a small part of the tale. The meat on the bones (probably bad terminology, eh?) comes in the introduction and eventual examination of Olo, a rare commodity among the cannibals who may possess the power to illuminate a clear victor of the ongoing quarrel.
Garrett aligns an epic tale early on, but proceeds to plow through the story at a rate that proves more detrimental than endearing. In fact, The Iron Legs in the Trees feels like a collection of CliffsNotes of a far grander tale. Rather than nurturing each element of this story, which is truly a massive tale, Garrett briefly skims over profoundly important plot points like a wake boarder on crystal. I’m certain it wasn’t Garrett’s intention to neglect the story, but it inadvertently happens just the same. The Iron Legs in the Trees wasn’t meant to be a 50-page novella. It’s just too intricate for that. This should have been a full-fledged novel anchored by TLC and attention to the finer points.
Having noted such an opinion, it’s important to point out the fact that this is Van’s official debut, a new adventure far different from the poetic course he’s travelled throughout his career. I’m not even certain Garrett realizes – to this day (or perhaps I should say yet) – just how enormous this story really is. But Van’s an intelligent dude, and seeing a revamped, fully fleshed out rendition of the tale almost feels inevitable. Whether Garrett currently understands the potential of his story or not is, for the time being, irrelevant; there’s a piece of me that fully believes this man will one day examine this piece and comprehend that there were countless corners cut that could have worked to elevate the narrative and heighten the impact of the astoundingly jarring finale.
And the finale is indeed jarring. I’m not out to spoil the story’s conclusion, but to inform you of a massive twist on this horizon is both honest and justified. As potential consumers you deserve to know that the story culminates with a mind boggling and explosive twist. Something savage awaits readers, stunning and unexpected; brutal and completely enjoyable… even if it is sadistic as all hell.
The Iron Legs in the Trees contains some highly refined descriptive work and genuinely beautiful passages. Van G. Garrett hits his stride midway through the novella, his prose reaching a degree of pure elegance, his direction at times freely unobstructed. If only there were more. A lot more.
While the future holds no guarantee other than death (boy, that’s a grim reality, eh?), I’m banking on an expansion of The Iron Legs in the Trees somewhere down the line. There’s no telling when we may see a lengthened addition hit shelves – Garrett may take his time to work on some more extensive fiction before revamping this promising effort – but my belly says one day The Iron Legs in the Trees receives the nourishment it deserves, and resurfaces as a substantially longer piece of work with a whole slew of new rewarding details. I always trust my gut.
Give this one a try, order it right here. Van Garrett may be a seasoned poet, but right now he’s still just a prospect in the world of extensive fiction. My money says he’s a prospect that properly develops rather than flounders under pressure and criticism. Keep your eyes on this man, he’s just getting started and he’s probably going to be around for quite some time.