(2007) Ed Greenwood, Solaris, £17.99, hdbk, 368pp, ISBN 987-1-844-1-6519-3
There are certain books you read that give you an idea of who they will appeal to straight away and this book is destined to appeal to anyone who plays RPGs (Role Playing Games). This fantasy has a distinct taste of Dungeons and Dragons to it and a definite allure of the mythical lands that are ideal for such adventures. Unsurprisingly, the author is no stranger to these as he is the creator of the 'Forgotten Realms' setting for Dungeons and Dragons and his familiarity with the genre shows.
The plot itself is nothing new and is very much of the 'ordinary bloke finds himself in extraordinary situation' kind as Rod Everlar, the creator of a series of books about the fictional land of Falconfar, is awoken by a mysterious, woman called Taeauna and near death, landing on his bed. He finds that his blood can heal her, which turns out to be fortunate as she is instrumental in him being able to flee from his apartment, when it soon overrun by Dark Helms. He magically finds sanctuary in his own fictional realm of Falconfar.
Once there, he is heralded as a powerful wizard but, not being knowledgeable about spells and the like, he is at a disadvantage and forced to hide his true identity. From there on, Rod finds himself encountering familiar places in the world he has created and also finds that the publishers of his books, Holdencorp, have wreaked havoc with an environment he thought he would know inside and out. Along the way he meets characters that would certainly not be out of place in a roleplaying game.
While the story itself does not have any great substance, it is an enjoyable read and Rod's viewpoints along the way relating to how Holdencorp have altered the world he created adds a quirky edge to the tale, for example, remarks about how Rod wishes he had taken more time when thinking up names for characters. He also comes to the conclusion that he will have to learn to take care of himself in this new land in order to survive.
As this is the first book in a sequence, it endeavours to set the scene, though this is hindered by the sheer volume covered of background characters and areas of Falconfar, realms, castles and minions. It was, at one point, hard to distinguish between who was aligned with whom and why they were fighting a particular battle.
The story is garnished with widespread use of sorcery. This is well executed and, in some instances, with a dark twist. For example, a mystical gate allowing evil minions to travel great distances can only be powered by one thing - the life force of an unfortunate victim.
I have no doubt that this book will appeal to anyone who is interested in RPGs and the sword and sorcery genre, and while it is entertaining enough as a novel, it does not cover any new ground but would be fine for a straightforward read.
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