Full review of The Gnoll Credo, from the Tahoe Mountain News

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“Tahoe Author Speaks Mind Through Fiction”
Review by Jazmyne Suydam

Tahoe Mountain News, August 2010

Gnolls aren’t real. Everyone knows this. We have known this since we were children and were first introduced to the world of the fantastic. We disbelieve their existence just as we don’t believe in tooth fairies, Easter bunnies, or the magical Keebler elves (even though they give us delicious cookies). If there were one book (or series) that could have ever made me believe in elves, trolls, goblins, or the like, it is most likely Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, until now. J. Stanton’s The Gnoll Credo is a fanciful look at ethnography in a world where gnolls, orcs, wolfmen and lionmen are as real as we are. It is more than just a realistic fantasy tale, however. It is a brilliant commentary, and yes, criticism, of the way we as humans think and behave on a daily basis.

The author, J. Stanton, has had a rather diverse life so far, with experience in many different fields of existence. In the entertainment industry he has published arcade and home video games and several different forms of music, including rock, electronic, and tribal. He has also written automobile reviews, business plans, advertising copy, and political campaign websites. Like many Tahonians, he can also be found enjoying the mountain terrain on foot, skis, and by bicycle.

If you are expecting high fantasy, ethereal elves, evil wizards, and damsels in distress, you are in for a surprise. There are very few aspects of traditional fantasy in this book (gnolls and the like aside). Being a fan of the fantasy genre myself, I was unsure of what to expect, but the results were surprising. What really drew me in was the way Stanton develops his characters. It became increasingly easy to see Aidan as a representation of the human race. The values he has, things he believes in, and, also, the things he places importance in are things we can all relate to. His passion for his work is inspiring and is something that every one of us aspires to have in our careers. Gryka, albeit not your typical protagonist, is beautiful, complex, violent, barbaric, and yet one of the most lovable and admirable characters that I have encountered. Both characters are three-dimensional, which is a refreshing break from the more static characters found in the majority of fantasy (and many other) novels of today. The more each character is developed, the more you can relate to them, understand where they are coming from, and this can even lead you to ask the same questions that they ask each other over the course of the book.

The book doesn’t have the most complicated plot in the world (especially if you have read Lord of the Rings); however, it is written in a much different way than most novels out today. It is a series of conversations between the two main characters: Aidan O’Rourke, an ethnographer who journeys from his university to a small, rural town to study the race of gnolls, and Gryka, the most influential gnoll in his study. As the story progresses they form a bond that only scholars can truly appreciate, since they are each trying to gain a better understanding of the way each others’ cultures work. There aren’t many twists or turns: the story is pretty straightforward, which makes it an easy and fun read. It will, however, grip you, making it difficult to put down until the end.

There is only one thing about which I think some will have difficulty with the book. It is a social commentary on the human condition as it exists today. Be warned: this book will make you think, question, think more, and question again. Stanton does not believe in pulling his punches. What he has to say, he says in a most direct and unflinching way (which may cause others to flinch). I admire him for his candid way of getting his point across. However, if you aren’t a fan of questioning the importance of all the little nuances of our lives, and some of the big ones too, this book may not be for you. If you enjoy having your way of life challenged, pick up The Gnoll Credo. It is a great summer read that will leave you thinking.

The book is available from its publisher, 100 Watt Press, at their website 100wattpress.com. it is currently selling for $10.95. It can also be purchased from amazon.com, and can be found there under ISBN 978-0-9826671-3-2.

[Note from 100 Watt Press: The Gnoll Credo is available at several Tahoe-area merchants, including Keynote Used Records and Books, Mad About Music, and The Energy Drink Outlet in South Lake Tahoe, and Borders in Carson City.
The book is also available through most online merchants, including Powells and Barnes and Noble. Overseas readers can find it at The Book Depository.]