K.C. May, 2010
Premise: Gavin Kinshield is haunted by his family's history; his ancestor had been the bodyguard and champion of the last King, who died tragically and alone. Now he is further haunted by a possible destiny, for it is beginning to seem like he is the only one who can decipher the King's Runestones and claim the throne to unite the land.
This is a solid light epic fantasy, if that's not too much of a contradiction in terms. It's nothing ground-shaking or mind-blowing, but I enjoyed reading it, and I had trouble putting it down by the end.
The story isn't particularly strong on politics, and the world has a generic fantasy economy. I eventually figured out that the land hadn't been in anarchy for 200 years, but rather a 'king and lords' feudalism had devolved into a petty 'local lords' feudalism. It's a mostly human fantasy land, with a D&D-esque multiverse: (there's some sort of demon dimension; it doesn't come up much, but it's actually really well handled.)
I didn't like the naming conventions at first, but kinda liked them by the end. (The key is realizing most silly sounding names, like Daia Saberheart, are warrior epithets chosen by the characters.) Gavin and the other characters are well defined, the writing is visceral and the description is generally clear.
There's a good assortment of characters, too: women warriors, knight errants, thieves and wanderers, blacksmiths and children.
I actually liked that the descriptions and assessments I got about a character when I was 'following' him or her were pretty different from what I got when I was 'following' another character's opinion of the first. It was occasionally confusing, but did subtly point out that how we see ourselves is not how others see us. I liked that it encouraged me as the reader not to blindly believe any one character's description of another, or of themselves. (It also allowed the author to avoid shoehorning character description in too early, which is a good call.)
The villain is pure evil, which works only because he's good at what he does, and has reason to believe he'll succeed; he isn't brought down by his own incompetence.
Overall, an entertaining read in a world with room to grow.
3 Stars – A Good Book
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