Ifferon and Teron part ways hurriedly while battle approaches their village. Ifferon is assailed by black chasing shadows almost immediately as he and another (wannabe cleric Yavun) run willy nilly like startled bunnies. Soon, they bump into Herr’Don The Great, savior of damsels in distress, bringer of the sword, major task accomplisher, and blow hard. They all leave, running into the magus Melgales who reveals hidden things. Next enters Thalla, the lover of Herr’Don and apprentice to Melgales. She also has a bow but rarely uses it. In fact, she starts off strong and interesting but then quickly slides into Silly Lass With Breasts role. For nearly half the book, she is the only female character. Other heroes, magi, women, bad guys, and youngins make an appearance as we move forward.
So far I have made this book sound a bit light hearted. It isn’t. This is a thick book, not so much in page numbers, but in the fact that so much is going on on every single page. Additionally, the book is told in limited third person, like Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings. This means that we see everyone’s actions and hear everyone’s words, but we never know what is going on in anyone’s head. In some instances, this can be challenging, and in some it makes the plot that much more interesting because you truly have to weigh everything about a character to figure out if they are the spy and betrayer.
I enjoyed the intensity of this book. The serious, desperate need to defeat Agon and his minions weighed on all the characters and drove the plot. There was a variety of ages; not just the young and beautiful were key to this novel. Eventually, we do get some warrior women, one with sense and the other without. I do have to mention that nearly all the women are called sluts or prostitutes or whores by some man at some point in the book (and those male characters are soundly booed by other male characters). But it stood out in my mind as I was reading it. Perhaps because the main female character, Thalla, was driven by the need to be attached to a man and had to be protected, or fought over, for most of the book.
By and large, the book was very interesting with beautiful prose, good guys with personality flaws, and large, well-developed world to play in. From a technical aspect, I only have two points that stand out for me as minor detractions: 1) Occasionally the reader would be following a group of heroes and several pages into the scene, a character, who I thought had gone with the other hero team, speaks up. Ooops, where did you come from? Been here all along, have you? 2) The ending left several of the smaller story arcs unanswered and I felt I could have used at least a few more pages to wrap things up for this book. I know it’s a series, but there were just some nagging questions. Nothing major for those who plan to continue with the series.