Well of Darkness (The Sovereign Stone, Book 1)
Weis and Hickman, 2000
I should just call this the “sooner or later I'll get through all the dollar fantasy I picked up at Forbidden Planet” series and be done with it. Like Lord of the Isles, Well of Darkness was picked up on the very cheap, because I like the authors.
In this case, I got almost exactly what I expected. Nothing jaw-dropping, no brilliant characters or plots here, but okay structure, an interesting magic system, and cool world-building. Cool world-building is really what I expect from these guys.
Here we've got your standard fantasy world with a nice subtle twist. They've kept something core about each race, and just given a perspective shift on the rest. For example, the elves, as expected, love nature, live mostly in fancy gardens, and are contemplative. They are also inspired by aspects of various Asian cultures and history. Their society is very complex, they are very concerned with saving face and honor and their family position, they seek wisdom from their deceased ancestors, and they are highly warlike, just subtle about it. It stays true enough to a classic elf to be instantly recognizable, but is still a really interesting take.
The plot is okay, though fairly obvious from the start. It reminds me in an unfortunate way of the early Death Gate books, or the rather stupid “Dragonvarld” series. Each of these had a first book that felt fairly superfluous to the larger plot when I got to the end of it.
I can see some of the construction work in this book, a turn of phrase or choice of tone here and there that reminds me of character types that have worked for these authors in the past. These don't quite gel as well here, there were no characters who felt especially compelling outside of their place in the plot machinations.
Still, I enjoyed reading it; the writing flows at a brisk pace and is hardly ever boring. And I'll probably read the second one. After all, I bought it for a dollar, too.
2 Stars- An Okay Book