The Red Wolf Conspiracy

The Red Wolf Conspiracy (The Chathrand Voyages, Bk 1)
Robert V. S. Redick, 2008

I heard about this book getting high praise on a blog somewhere, and as fantasies and books set on boats are both genres I enjoy, I picked up The Red Wolf Conspiracy when it appeared at my local library.

This story doesn't start very strong, but does get better.  It's a solid fantasy adventure--downtrodden heroes, magical races, evil politicians, powerful talismans--with perhaps one or two too many sidetracks in the plot.  Yes, it's an original world, not a clone of another series, but that's the minimum requirement these days.

I think the author may have flirted a few too many times with the line between too much exposition and not enough.  There were aspects and whole species that took me a while to figure out from context, and the prose might be even more unforgiving to novice fantasy readers.

On the other hand, some of the fantasy elements were fine deduced from context, such as “woken” animals.  I did sometimes get the sense that the author went back and forth with how “magical” he wanted his world to be.  The tone of the writing generally seems very practical and down-to-earth, such that the sheer number of unconnected fantasy/magical elements feels startling.  Also, several fairly important elements were introduced rather late, and every time I thought I had a handle on the 'level' of magic in the world, he'd throw in some new wrinkle.  Which isn't necessarily bad, but in some cases here it made the world-building feel amorphous, incomplete.

Sadly, I was unimpressed with the level of nautical detail as well. It was decent and all, but I have very high expectations for books on boats.

All this is not to say that I disliked the book.  It was good.  I'm sure that of most of the books that come out in any given span of time, most are of inferior quality to this.  But it was good, not great.  This doesn't mean I won't pick up the sequel if it appears at my local library (it does have rats in the title), but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to seek it out.  Your mileage, of course, may vary.

3 Stars - A Good Book

Next Week: a survey of the haul from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2010.  (Possibly Part 1 of 2)


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