|Submitted by Amaunette |
(Jul 06, 2006)
If you're looking for bland epic fantasy with a (small) twist, this book is for you.
Fiona McIntosh has written a tolerable first novel in a trilogy, the elements of which are competely familiar to any fantasy reader. Here, we are presented with the story of Wyl Thirsk, General of Morgravia. The title of General is inherited, and so Wyl has been trained since birth to arms, strategy, and command. This, at least, is better than the "farmboy" ploy we are already well tired of. Wyl grew up in the country, loves "common folk," and hates evil of all sorts. The villain, Celimus, is the rightful heir and King of Morgravia. Celimus is evil, loves no one, and especially hates the common peasants he is forced to deal with. Upon Wyl's father's death, Wyl was sent to in the castle Stoneheart with Celimus to learn his duties as General, whereupon the two developed an immediate and total dislike. Wyl could hardly stand the torture, rape, and murderous pursuits Celimus was inclined towards. This is all, in my mind, background to the real story, which begins when Wyl is ordered on a diplomatic mission, away from Morgravia. Then, the twist comes into play.
The summary I have given so far should make it obvious that all elements of this story are transparent and recycled. What's worse, the heroes are *totally* good, and the villains are *completely* evil, no shades of gray in between. The twist, which I shall attempt to refrain from mentioning for fear of spoiling the story, is also familiar but perhaps infrequently used in fantasy, which makes it almost novel. If it were not for this twist, I probably would have given up on the book. The story and writing are mediocre, and the twist is the only thing that makes this book worth reading. The caveat is that I have not finished the whole series, and so it is unclear exactly whether or not the story will improve from this book onwards. I can only hope the author can infuse some more creativity into what is an almost boring first book.
In short, this book is mind candy -- it's sweet, easy to swallow, and can give you a boost when you need it, but it's no substitute for a good meal.