In 1973 Frank Frazetta painted The Death Dealer. It is a rather provocative piece of work as far as fantasy art goes, featuring a sinister figure atopIn 1973 Frank Frazetta painted The Death Dealer. It is a rather provocative piece of work as far as fantasy art goes, featuring a sinister figure atop a large black steed and wielding a bloody axe; face lost in shadow except for two smouldering red eyes gazing contemptuously out of the frame. It also has its own Wikipedia entry.
He stripped each body and made a blanket from their leather tunics. He heaped their armor and weapons along with his broken axe and helmet on the blanket, tied them in a bundle. He drank from the stream in animal fashion, and washed most of the dry blood and gore off his body. Then he picked up the bundle, heaved it to his back, and started down a narrow trail beside the stream.
In 1988, the first in a series of novels entitled “Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer” was published: it was titled Prisoner of the Horned Helmet. The author (James Silke) draws his inspiration directly from Frazetta’s painting, and strives to infuse the story with the same menace and grittiness that Frazetta so successfully portrayed. It is also, unsurprisingly, a nod to the works of Robert E. Howard and his contemporaries. The prose is purple and the battles are bloody; the somewhat psychotic (anti) hero protagonist says nary a word and scantily clad maidens swoon at the first sign of danger.
Politically correct this may not be, but it is powerful stuff. The first battle featuring Gath of Baal (a.k.a. the Death Dealer) is nothing short of breathtaking. He is somewhat invincible, which negates the stress factor to an extent, but hot-damn if I’d gotten hold of this in my teenage years I may well have pursued a career in pillaging or, barring that, writing.
He was a massive horned demon of black metal and sinew graced by golden light, drinking air and holding the bridge with booted feet as if all the elements were personal possessions. The helmet had transformed him. He was death, and he had never felt so alive.
Does the novel succeed in what it sets out to do, i.e. to bring to life the Death Dealer of Frazetta’s painting? To an extent, sure enough, but it does have some shortcomings: the plot is on the thin side and there is no character development to speak of. It’s a simplistic and occasionally silly story, but hey, who cares? They don’t make them like this anymore. If anything, you need to read this for the adrenaline fueled and uncompromising fighting sequences. Also: if you really wanted to, you could think of this book as “Beauty and the Beast” on some seriously hardcore enhancement drugs.
Finally, a note on the cover art, also by Frank Frazetta. I always appreciate it if I am able to relate the cover of a book to its contents. In this instance we have Gath of Baal laying into some slave drivers at the ruins of a place called “Chela Kong”. Yes, it’s in the book. I’ll be rating this quite high, thank you very much. Nothing wrong with some pulpy goodness every now and then, although it’s not quite as good as, say, Karl Edward Wagner's Dark Crusade. ...more
This is my second attempt at trying to review The Fires of Heaven. I've got some pretty mixed feelings about the book. First of all, thTricksy review!
This is my second attempt at trying to review The Fires of Heaven. I've got some pretty mixed feelings about the book. First of all, this is obviously a massive story, and most of what happens here underlines that fact. However, something that detracted from the epic sweep of the proceedings is the way the women are portrayed. For one thing, grown women going around strapping other grown women on the backside? Considering that about half, if not more, of this tome is dedicated to the female characters, there is a lot of that kind of thing going on. Also, most of them are barely indistinguishable from one another (a fact that some other reviewers already mention here). There is a lot of hissing and scratching and generally childish behaviour to be found here, and it eventually annoyed me. These books are pretty long already, but having your patience strained on so many different levels seems unfair.
On the other hand, despite the marked absence of Perrin, the bits with Rand and Mat were really good. I'm hitting the long middle of the series now, but I am still invested enough to continue. I am curious to see how things are going to play out, with so many different pieces on the board. Events toward the end of the novel moved the plot along nicely, even though they created a whole new bag of loose ends.
In the end, I liked it well enough, but cannot in good conscience give it more than three stars.
My review of The Dragonbone Chair did not do the novel justice. It was written in haste, a few quickly typed lines before I launched into The Stone ofMy review of The Dragonbone Chair did not do the novel justice. It was written in haste, a few quickly typed lines before I launched into The Stone of Farewell. See, The Dragonbone Chair ended on such a note that I just did.not.have.the.time to think about a decent review. I simply had to know what happened next.
The first novel went to great pains to establish the world, so there wasn’t such a lot of exposition required for The Stone of Farewell. This freed the author up to do what he apparently does best: write awesome, and remarkably cinematic, fantasy. There is an epic sweep to Memory, Sorrow and Thorn that does both Tolkien and David Lean proud. George R.R. Martin is on record saying that this series inspired him to write A Song of Ice and Fire.
Simon is a great reluctant-hero type. He is often resentful and bitter as he is swept along in the story. He rarely comprehends the significance of events and he never volunteers, but is unable to remove himself from the forefront of the stage. He often alternates between self pity and self loathing, which makes him pretty believable given the circumstances. And yet, ever so slowly, the reader starts perceiving the subtle changes, because among all the other things this novel aspires to, it is also a bildungsroman. As for Binabik the troll: he has to be read to be believed. There is some truth to the “dynamite in small packages” saying. The Miriamele/Aspitis sequence frustrated me to the point of orthostatic hypotension, but I have a niggling feeling that this was exactly the author’s intention. I could go on and on: the characters in here are as real as it gets in genre fiction, and there are many of them.
At times touching, at times amusing, but always rousingly epic - this is the series to read if you’re into high fantasy. I don’t have the next book close at hand (it is still in the mail), which is a pity, since this one also ends on such a fever pitch that I would have loved to launch straight into To Green Angel Tower, Part 1, without losing momentum. Alas.
Note: Jumping into a river to attack a crocodile is probably the second stupidest thing you can do (I’m reserving judgement about the first). It didn’t affect my rating, but you might want to bear it in mind. ...more
Another wind was starting up, and on it something unbelievably foul.
I was introduced to Greg Keyes via his Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series (Book 1: Another wind was starting up, and on it something unbelievably foul.
I was introduced to Greg Keyes via his Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series (Book 1: The Briar King), which I thought was bloody magnificent. It looks like most of his other stuff is tie-in fiction, so I didn’t immediately get around to sampling any of it, because I wasn’t familiar with the source material, with one or two possible exceptions.
Enter The Infernal City: I was keen to read more Keyes, and frankly I was sold by the cover art.
He ticked one glossy black claw on the table.
OK. I’ll be very clear here. If you are not acquainted with the different races and the history of the Elder Scrolls Universe, you will initially have some issues with this book. I dabbled with both Oblivion and Skyrim to some little extent, and boy was I in over my head with The Infernal City…
She saw thick figures with brick-red skin, fierce faces, and small horns on their heads, working next to ghostly pale blue-haired beings, spherical mouselike creatures with stripes, and a veritable horde of monkeylike creatures with goblinesque faces.
It’s not so much an issue with the writing as it is with visualisation: what does a Khajiit, or an Argonian, look like? And what, pray tell, is a “Lilmothian expression of agitation”? For example: I pictured a certain character as, well, human, until I realised he was covered in hair. In another instance: scales. And imagine my surprise when yet another character turned out to have a snout, and not a nose…
Armed and armored, he rode south and east, toward madness, retribution, and death. And though he had long ago forgotten what happiness was, he imagined it must have been a bit like what he felt now.
So, fantasy for the hardcore crowd then? Possibly. But then again, this novel isn’t very massive by fantasy standards and reads very quickly. Once I settled into a rhythm I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. If you’re tired of Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance or Warhammer, here’s where you should be looking next. Or, you could just start here if you haven’t been reading any of the aforementioned.
“He saw something out on the deep, something coming this way.”
Keyes is very adapt at keeping the pace lively, and his action sequence are second to none. Well, at least those he wrote in his Kingdoms series. Here’s the thing: when it comes to tie-in fiction you need to adjust your tolerance level accordingly. It’s often silly and over the top, or just plain weird, because of the prerequisite of following a certain rule-set. Other times it’s pretty damn good. Keyes is certainly competent enough. Don’t expect anything ground-breaking and you’ll be just fine.
Old Imperial Lilmoth spread below them, crumbling hulks of villas festooned with vines and grounds overgrown with sleeping palms and bamboo, all dark now as if cut from black velvet, except where illumined by the pale phosphorescences of lucan mold or the wispy yellow airborne shines, harmless cousins of the deadly will-o’-wisps in the deep swamps.
The set pieces are quite fantastic, as you would expect. And especially the Infernal City of the title.
Her first impression was of a vast jellyfish, its massive dark body trailing hundreds of impossibly slender, glowing tentacles. But then she saw the solidity of it, the mountain ripped from its base and turned over. The mass of it, the terrifying size.
That said, the sequences taking place on Umbria (the Infernal City) itself are sometimes a bit creepy, or bizarre, especially as far as the environment / setting is concerned.
The hum sharpened into not one voice, but many. Vague, gibbering cries, unholy shrieks of agony and fear, babbling in languages she did not know. It sent scorpions down her back.
I find Keyes to be an incredibly entertaining writer, but this doesn’t really match up to his Kingdoms of Thorn & Bone series. The characters are rather forgettable and the story isn’t particularly deep or complex, but it is still quite a bit of fun and recommended to those fantasy-ists who really immerse themselves in imaginary worlds.
Oh, it contains the cooking competition from hell; Longtime Oblivion / Elder Scrolls fans will recognise the elaborate spellcraft dynamics. Also, sometimes it betrays its origins by veering into “quest” territory. I was going to give it 4 stars but the ending was ultimately unsatisfying (the book isn’t self contained). Hopefully there is a follow-up.
3 – 3.5 stars
It was breathtaking, and for a moment she forgot her situation in wonder of it. ...more
As unpredictable and dynamic as Lamentation was, things get even more twisty here. Scholes takes his POV characters into unexpected directions and itAs unpredictable and dynamic as Lamentation was, things get even more twisty here. Scholes takes his POV characters into unexpected directions and it becomes clear that the repercussions of the Desolation of Windwir are much greater than the first novel hinted at. New threats emerge. Or are they really new? How much of it ties into the Windwir incident? It's also very clear that nothing is quite what it seems. Scholes reveals more of his world here, and what we get to see is tantalizing. I'm still of the opinion that this is a story that tells itself; It's remarkably paced. Maybe there are some themes present that have been attempted before, but this is still a fascinating story with a unique voice that deserves to be given a chance by readers of fantasy fiction. I doubt you've ever read anything quite like this. It seems to me that Mr Scholes is set on taking this story to great heights.
There is also a lot of mysticism running through the story and I'm curious to see how it is going to be handled further on. It will be interesting to see how the prophecies relating to some key figures pan out. There are a few threads left hanging at the end, which is understandable, and it does set the story up very nicely for book 3 (Antiphon)
A great series so far. Highly recommended. ...more
Meet Sparhawk: Pandion Knight and Queen’s Champion. If this were D&D his character class would likely b'You'd better get ready to ride, Sparhawk.'
Meet Sparhawk: Pandion Knight and Queen’s Champion. If this were D&D his character class would likely be Paladin; he can cast spells, but mostly prefers to just chop off heads with his considerable broadsword.
Sparhawk is a bit of a bad-ass. So is his horse, Faran.
'It's the Queen's Champion. Don't ever stand in his way.'
I fairly devoured this novel in short order. Sparhawk has a zero tolerance approach to BS which is immensely refreshing and enjoyable.
The Diamond Throne is a no-nonsense tale. The writing style on display here is sometimes a bit workmanlike and without literary flourish, but it seems to suit the story (and especially the protagonist) rather well.
'It's going to be dangerous.'
And thus our hero sets out on a quest to save the kingdom, accompanied by a few companions.
Ah, the tried and tested recipe for a fantasy story. Fortunately it’s hardly possible to make a mess of a book when it has such an endearing protagonist. Eddings seems to have struck gold with Sparhawk, because I was willing to forgive all kinds of faults.
It’s an old school story that (in my opinion) leans slightly more toward the heroic fantasy of Gemmell than it does the high fantasy of Tolkien, and yet it still sits somewhere in between. I haven’t read The Belgariad yet, so I’m unable to draw any comparison. Eddings, it seems, was somewhat hot property in the 1980s, alongside the likes of Raymond E. Feist. Just don’t expect dragons or elves.
'What are you planning, Sparhawk?' 'Chastisement.’
One of the major selling points of this story is the dialogue. It’s rather good, what. In fact, it’s absolutely delightful more often than not.
The bantering between the characters, and especially the knights of the different orders, is deftly dealt with. It’s remarkable that, for all the humour in this novel, it never stoops to being silly or a parody.
'It should be almost like a cheese grater when we start to grind them up against your walls.' 'And I can drop some interesting things on them from my battlements as well. Arrows, large rocks, burning pitch - that sort of thing.' 'We're going to get on splendidly, my Lord,'
The story won me over with its simple charm. It’s not as complicated and reality-ridden as the modern fantasy, but it does have a bit of dirt under its fingernails. There are some religious and philosophical leanings, but for the most part these serve to underscore elements of the story.
'Has he ever bitten you?' 'Once. Then I explained to him that I'd rather he didn't do it any more.' 'Explained?' 'I used a stout stick. He got the idea almost immediately.'
In short: it’s a fantasy adventure that should appeal to readers that don’t have a very straight literary stick wedged somewhere tight.
For literary merit, cleverness and all that jazz: 3.5 stars For pure unadulterated entertainment value: 4.5 stars ...more
They were seeing the death of the realms, of everything they knew, stark and irrevocable. There was nothing left, nothing but ash and sand and salt andThey were seeing the death of the realms, of everything they knew, stark and irrevocable. There was nothing left, nothing but ash and sand and salt and ruin.
What the author envisions here is nothing new, but his approach is undeniably visceral. The Black Mausoleum is a stand-alone novel, but there’s a lot of potential catch up to do if, like me, you’re unfamiliar with the trilogy that preceded it.
The waking of the dragons had changed everything, and now nothing mattered except food and water and watching the sky.
Following events depicted in the Memory of Flames arc (starting with The Adamantine Palace), the realm is in chaos (think total devastation) and, quite frankly, mankind seems to be teetering on the brink of extinction. Those alive live in tunnels and caves where they can find them, and nobody dares venture out in daytime.
They were the Adamantine Guard. They slew dragons because dragons were monsters and yet, when [he] looked at the men he’d known, they were little more than monsters themselves.
It’s a very gritty story, with characters as morally grey as charcoal. Think, for example, Glen Cook and The Chronicles of the Black Company. The Black Mausoleum runs a gamut of violence, torture and cannibalism but fortunately steers clear of providing uncalled-for details. It’s all about survival, no matter the cost.
And the cost in this novel is often very, very high.
You’ll warm to the characters and hate them in equal measure. If ever a book deserved to be shelved as “Dark Fantasy”, this is it.
There he was, every bit the monster. His armour was spattered in blood. It dripped down the shaft of his axe and over his gauntlets. His eyes were hungry and mad.
The world is revealed in little more than glimpses, but what a world it is. There is some real sense of wonder here, even though the author keeps a lot of it purposefully vague. This is a trick that actually works quite well in this novel, since the point of view characters are on as much of a voyage of discovery as the reader.
And the dragons! They do make for some spectacularly visual action sequences.
Over his shoulder there was the dragon again, screaming over the river in a turn so vicious it made the air shudder enough to crack trees.
Despite being a difficult read at times, because of the tone, this book certainly hit all the right notes. It’s actually a fairly minimalistic story, but it contains some epic sequences. I’m giving it five stars, but I’m also going to give myself some time to digest all of it. It’s just that kind of book.
Deas also drops just enough information regarding The Silver King to intrigue me no end.
The halls and vaults of the Pinnacles glowed from above like a softly starlit night, a legacy of the Silver King, who’d brought order to the broken world and who’d first subdued the monsters. Half monster himself, half living god, adept with magics that no one before or since could even understand, almost everything here bore his mark. The Pinnacles had been his home for more than a hundred years, until the blood-mages had found a way to kill him.
And the contemplations of the Dragon, Blackscar (or, more correctly, Black Scar Of Sorrow Upon The Earth)
It had had a rider in those days. A true rider, a worthy one, a man made of silver. The god-men of the moon, whom the little ones called the Silver Kings.
Now I will seriously have to seek out the rest of this series, notably the The Silver Kings sequence starting with Dragon Queen.
In closing: I own the Orion / Gollancz large paperback and the Stephen Youll cover art is magnificent. ...more
Thank goodness for the Wheel of Time Wikia page. At this point in the series I can’t really differentiate too cl Was the whole world really burning up?
Thank goodness for the Wheel of Time Wikia page. At this point in the series I can’t really differentiate too clearly between books; everything is just blurring together. I suppose it would help if I read the books back to back, but that is not a realistic option. I honestly need a break between instalments.
That said, I do believe I enjoyed this book more than The Fires of Heaven. It felt, to me, like a return to form, but all of this is pretty relative given my comment above.
This time the story is actually moved forward. In fact, there are some pretty significant events that take place; let’s just say the deck is being shuffled. As per usual there is a lot of conniving, backstabbing and all kinds of political shenanigans between several factions, each of which with their own shady agenda. The Wheel of Time saga is a fantastic story but it is stupendously ambitious and intimidating. And, let’s be honest, more than a little bloated. Jordan’s vision, however, is singular in its scope and execution, and that is what pulls it through time and again.
Where are all the dead? Why will they not be silent?
As has been the trend so far, things are still getting darker and darker with each outing. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that this is only book six of fourteen. A lot has happened already and I’m not halfway yet.
No more running. He would do what he had to do, but no more running.
Pros 1. The Dragon Reborn – this is the part of the story I enjoy the most. I love how everybody keeps underestimating Rand and his allies, and his sequences always have the most epic showdowns. 2. World building – say what you will about Robert Jordan but he know how to create a living, breathing, fully realised setting, complete with its own histories and legends, cultures and peoples, and whatever else you can think of. 3. Wolves!
Cons 1. Sexism, or whatever the hell this is – it seems to be a point of contention among readers, but it is detracting if (just about) every serious situation devolves into a pissing contest between men and women. 2. The sheer length of this book – if a book has a prologue of 72 pages it had better be paced pretty damned fast…
The wolves. Let’s not forget the wolves…
Ground covered with brown grass, seemingly empty, suddenly gave birth to a thousand wolves.
…which leads me to the Battle of Dumai’s Wells.
They will pay, [he] growled. I am the Lord of the Morning.
See, here’s the clincher. It’s true that you could argue that this book has about 900 pages of build-up…. BUT it culminates in what is probably one of the most spectacular and satisfying showdowns in all of fantasy fiction. The Battle of Dumai’s Wells features almost 50,000 participants and just about blew my socks off, especially given the fact that it's over so quickly.
"Kneel and swear to the Lord Dragon, or you will be knelt."
So, in summary: this is a long hard read, but it is ultimately rewarding. I am going with 4 stars. ...more
If you’ve read the previous two Blackhearts novels, you’re going to have to read this as well. It completes the trilogy, and you finally get to see whIf you’ve read the previous two Blackhearts novels, you’re going to have to read this as well. It completes the trilogy, and you finally get to see whether the Blackhearts win their freedom, or not. I’ve been reading some reviews (where I could find them) and it seems that quite a few readers preferred Tainted Blood to its predecessors. As for myself, I’m not sure. I think that I have let too much time pass after reading The Broken Lance. I found that I couldn’t recall some of the key events leading up to this novel, which obviously marred the experience a bit. That being said, if you’re into this kind of thing (Warhammer, that is, or hack & slash fantasy), this will be right up your alley. There is a whole assortment of baddies to be slaughtered here, ranging from mutants and skaven to the more sophisticated Druchii. At times the book feels shallow as hell, as skirmish-in-dark-cavern follows skirmish-in-dark-cavern, but Warhammer’s “Old World” is quite an interesting setting and these novels serve as a nifty way to explore it.
Depending on your expectations (and really, you should know what you’re in for when reading this kind of fantasy fiction), this is either an exercise in absurdity or a fun way to while away a few hours. If you enjoyed the Malus Darkblade or Gotrek & Felix novels, there really isn’t much reason why you wouldn’t enjoy Blackhearts.
My wife commented on the fairly ambiguous nature of my review for The Crown Conspiracy. I did enjoy the book, hence the three star rating, but it didnMy wife commented on the fairly ambiguous nature of my review for The Crown Conspiracy. I did enjoy the book, hence the three star rating, but it didn't exactly blow me away.
Avempartha, on the other hand, comes a lot closer to doing just that. The very title of the novel intrigued me. I wasn't going to read the book quite yet, as I had some other ones lined up, but I was curious as to what the title referred to. Was it the name of a person? A city? An artifact?
A character that really annoyed me in Conspiracy, was Alric Essendon, and he is thankfully absent from this outing. Esrahaddon is back as a key character, and this is extremely important since the history of Sullivan's setting is divulged through these sequences. It's fascinating stuff too, especially the way the Elves are portrayed.
Avempartha, as it turns out, is an ancient Elven Citadel (tower) in the middle of a vast river. Not only is it an enigma, but the very act of reaching it poses a fair share of problems. It's obvious then, that this is the very place the protagonists have to go. Linked to this is the ongoing search for the Heir of Novron (this is the main story arc), and a mysterious creature that terrorises a local village by night. Expect a wee bit of horror. Not only is Avempartha a meatier novel, it is also much darker, and there is a sense of wonder here that was absent in book 1.
The novel has a lot going for it. It's fun and it reads quickly. Oh, and there is that very, very tantalising final line. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Xanth. Where nothing is quite as it seems, and even inanimate objects can cast spells; where even puns aren’t so much puns, as something else…
He remem Xanth. Where nothing is quite as it seems, and even inanimate objects can cast spells; where even puns aren’t so much puns, as something else…
He remembered the wild oats he had planted as an adolescent. Sea oats were restless, but their cousins the wild oats were hyperactive. They had fought him savagely, their stems slashing across his wrists as he tried to harvest a ripe ear.
Despite the lightheartedness of the story there is a perilous undertone. Xanth is a magical place, but it can be pretty dangerous too, since it is extremely unpredictable. It’s a place where walking off into the woods at night is almost sure to get you killed, and the method of demise can be as inane as “death by peacefulness” (which essentially boils down to losing all interest in living).
Bizarre dialogue interlude "May we stop for a drink?" "Not here! Anyone who drinks from that water becomes a fish." "A fish? Why?" "The river is trying to restock itself.”
So, the first half of the book is undoubtedly silly. So what? In fact, it’s more than silly, it’s often frankly bizarre and most likely best enjoyed with your hallucinogen of choice close at hand. The book is also written in episodic format. I’m not sure whether it was originally intended to be, or published separately as, a short story collection. I did seem to detect echoes of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth saga in here.
Whenever I rate a book I try to bear in mind when it was written. That’s to say, what may have been relevant in 1977 (when A Spell For Chameleon was published), may not be relevant today, but should not by default disqualify the book. Or, for example, if the book was written for a younger audience, I should not be rating it down for being immature, because it may be exceptionally suited to its target audience. The book was well received, at any rate, and it won the August Derleth award.
Only a phenomenal series of coincidences had saved his skin. He knew that coincidence was an untrustworthy ally.
The ridiculousness of the book is its own reward. It’s (almost) impossible to take it seriously. This is particularly true for the first half of the story, but the tone changes somewhat in the second half. The latter sequences deal with themes like the nature of the magic of Xanth, its relation to the “real” (mundane) world and the Xanth gene pool. Also: redemption, haunted castles and zombie crocodiles.
Despite its apparent flaws, there are some genuinely touching moments, however fleeting. Perhaps, at its heart this is just a love story, perhaps not, but the essence of the book is really captured by the following line: It was dangerous to play with magic unless the precise nature of the spell was understood.
I totally expected to dislike it (from reading the reviews here), but it was a fun read and rather different to some of the other stuff around. [read: guilty pleasure]
A spell for Chameleon. What an astonishing enchantment. ...more
Arguably, this high fantasy book’s greatest strength is also its Achilles heel.
The world is described in loving detail, not only through the narrative Arguably, this high fantasy book’s greatest strength is also its Achilles heel.
The world is described in loving detail, not only through the narrative, but through extensive use of dialogue. It’s a fascinating world, beautifully crafted and filled with lore and mystery, but it’s also a lot to absorb. Readers may find all the exposition a bit much, especially taking into account the lively pace of the prologue.
Let me explain: after a spectacularly exciting prologue the story fast tracks almost twenty years… and, frankly, comes to a grinding halt as far as pacing is concerned. There are layers and layers of history and world building to wade through between flurries of excitement. The English used when characters interact in, for example, the older languages of the envisioned world, is often excessive in nature. It’s by design, of course, and suits the story, but it makes for slow reading. Considering that this book is rather dense to start with (600+ pages in the Baen print), and that it essentially deals with a very, very small portion of what is a much bigger story, readers may well feel cheated when they come to the end and realize that not all that much has actually transpired for all the time spent reading.
Let me just qualify all this by saying that, personally, I enjoyed the book a lot. Yes, it’s a slow book, but it’s quite atmospheric and sets up what promises to be a fascinating story in a very complete world. I even enjoyed the flowery language, because sometimes I do actually read books for their prose. I also tend to enjoy immersing myself in strange and mysterious worlds.
If you prefer fast-paced and action filled stories with lots of big fights then this isn’t for you. To be clear, though, this doesn’t mean that I won’t recommend it in any case. I’m rather keen to read the sequel (Darkling Fields of Arvon), since there is only one way the story can go from here and it’s likely to be a fine ride.
Addendum Just a note on the maps. There are three of these, and I compulsively kept checking everything against them. This isn't recommended, since you won't find the Balk Pit of Uam (it's on an area outside the map) in any case, and it will prolong your reading time a lot. But to each his own....more