Last year at PaizoCon, I was running my NeoExodus Special, having a good time with a good group.
Then during a break, one of the players come up to me and hands me a book. I'm thank him, and wonder what he wants for it. "Dude it's free, just tell me what you think." Free book in return for an honest review? Yes. I can do that!
But I cannot.
The tag line says "A young pallitine in a dragon's world" does not feel quite right. But that's a great tagline. I think the tagline should be "A dragon in a young pallatine's world"...
Straight up analysis. There is a prologue and twenty-five chapters. They are logically broken up and feel natural. The boring parts are skipped, leaving us with the interesting part. Pet peeve of mine? Yes. This breakdown allows for the ebbs and flows of the story, and handle the changes of direction.
The story follows Taryn, a girl coming from difficult circumstances, and a life flirting with crime, prostitution and drugs. Over the course of the story, she meets with a pallatine named Thoman who takes her as his apprentice. From there, we follow her training until she is accepted as a full-fledged pallatine. Of interest to the readers: the way is not without many obstacles and setbacks. Making for a good read.
- Interesting take on paladins. The Pallatines are obviously a knightly order akin to D&D paladins. Unlike the typical game-paladin, each of them come with a background and a personality that does not make them feel like goodie-two-shoes. They want to do good and seek to do good, but wrestle with themselves and their past. They never use the "I'm lawful good so I do [this]" excuse I hear too often at the gaming table.
- Does not feel like I'm reading a recap of his home campaign, complete with a round-by-round description. Combats feel chaotic and rarely have a clear impression of what is happening as a whole. This means that the character, like the reader, is sometimes surprised by the sudden action or arrival of another one. To me, that's a strength. I found myself looking forward to the fight scenes.
- The story evolves, a lot. Sometimes it feels like a Harry Potter school story, that evolves into a travel tale. So the plot is not concise in that it touches a number of themes and flow. (also see the cons, I put that here because this is mostly a positive)
- Time moves forward. Yes, it sounds stupid but I like the fact that time passes, skimming over some parts I wasn't too interested in reading.
- The main character, Taryn, grows throughout the story in logical ways. Often through brutal experiences. Often sucks to be her! The established adults, not so much (then again, they are established people, I changed less in the last 5 years than I did when I was 15-19)...
- This is an intro to a series. Some will LOVE this. Me, I have this thing about series.
- This is something pretty small, but I would like
- A LOT of loose ends, perhaps a little too much of them. I would really like to know more about the Plague that affects the animals, more about the Barbarians gathering in the South, more about the secret cults, exactly what happened at the blacksmith's shop, who betrays them, etc...
- The biggest flaw of the story, in my opinion, is linked to the above. Some people will just LOVE that. Me? I don't like that. Some of the questions deserved answers: the scene at the blacksmith's shop had a great set up, but the fallout left me flat (loose end). I really expected a resolution from this and... Nothing. The matter is covered up in a way that made me think there was a greater conspiracy at work. It felt like it didn't fit the character of the persons involved.
I would say this book is a B. Most of the cons were things that annoy me, but that I know others love. I found myself enjoying the read more than I expected, which was a nice bonus. Give it a "+" to those who love multi-book epics.
One question I rarely find in these book reviews is the answer to the question: "Would I buy the next book in this series?"
Reluctantly, I have to say yes. I really want to see what will happen to Taryn next. You can get a copy of the book through Amazon.
I will also watch for future release from Roderick (and try to get him to write for FOE!)