||With terrible writing, and a plot that
is simplistic at best, I couldn't wait to finish this book. Although one
character was mildly interesting, the rest of them seemed completely
mindless, even though we were told by the author that they were good
thinkers. All of the dialog was worse than juvenile, no matter who said
it. Finally, the conclusion was completely unsatisfying, but as expected
for this book. I can't recommend this to anybody.
I have a dilemma, now, in that I picked
up book 4 of this series for really cheap, and it is sitting on my
bookshelf. I could simply get rid of it, but I don't usually do that. In
other words, I have to hope books 2 and 3 are much better than this, so
that I can read the whole series and get what little money I spent on
the final book out of it! Ouch!
I suppose I should be grateful that
this book wasn't boring. It moved along at a steady pace; unfortunately,
it was mostly driven by dialog, and that dialog was horribly written.
The problems were large and small. Some of the small ones: People use the word "well..." as a placeholder when they want to think
about what they want to say. Characters in a book should use the word
sparingly -here, it is used way too often. Characters also say "sort of"
a lot, as in "I sort of forgot...". Huh? That aside, the dialog went on
and on, most of the time between two characters who are retelling dialog
spoken by two other characters, or reiterating a sequence of events that
we read through just a few pages ago. Sometimes we have to read through
the same dialog in (barely) different words three or more times!
The authors try to drum up suspense by
having one of the characters tell us that they are in big trouble,
several times in the novel. But by the third or fourth time, we know
this isn't true, because a solution is always offered in the following
chapter. It is always a simplistic solution offered by one of the
characters, who tells us what is going to happen, followed by events
that play out exactly (or almost exactly) as they told us. What few
hiccups there are barely change the outcome.
The most interesting character (the
only interesting one, really) is Longbow, the archer who never misses
his target. We are introduced to him early in the recruitment phase, but
the story pauses several chapters later to give us a backstory on him.
The book does this several times for various characters. Longbow is a
thinker, and he offers numerous observations and suggestions. The
characters are so in awe of him that they always follow his suggestions,
and they always work out terrific, after which everybody congratulates
him for being so smart. If he as a weakness, we don't see it in this
The plot of the novel, for what it's
worth, deals with an upcoming war between the four elder gods (the main
one in this novel is Zelana), against the Vlagh, a creature that lives
in the wasteland between the four realms, breeds unnatural creatures,
and intends to conquer the world. The elder gods are about to go to
their big sleep, after which the younger gods (who are currently
sleeping for eons) will take over. Zelana and the others harbor
Dreamers, who can affect reality with their dreams. The trick is that
the Dreamers turn out to be the younger gods -though we probably won't know
what that means until the last book.
Since the gods are forbidden to kill,
they go out to hire the humans beyond their realms, the Maags and
Trogites. It's barely credible how ignorant the gods are of humans. Gold means
nothing in the land of Dhrall, so they are able to easily stockpile it
to hire the soldiers. Zelana goes in search of the Maags, and finds the
ship Captain Sorgan Hook-Beak. Eleria, her Dreamer, wins over some of
the crew, working her magic through being cute (she's probably only
eight years old), while Zelana is naive and likes ordering people
around. The Maag recruitment is surprisingly realistic, with Sorgan
soliciting the help of his family, then other captains, to join the
fleet sailing for Dhrall. There is one incident with a captain trying to
burn Sorgan's ship, but Longbow and Rabbit (Sorgan's small blacksmith)
defeat them easily. The Beasts from the wasteland who put the plan into
motion talk about it in detail later, almost word-for-word what we read
just a few pages earlier -very annoying.
For mindless servants, the beasts of
the wasteland seem very cunning. We are told repeatedly that they aren't
even smart enough to be afraid, but they do some smart things. While
hiding in the mole-holes might be the mind of the Vlagh communicating
with them and telling them to wait, the ones on the beach in Maag were
having discussions amongst themselves, and it was obvious that they had
different opinions, so they weren't being controlled. As well, they were
afraid to report failure to the Vlagh, so these ones could feel fear, at
It's a good thing Zelana and Veltan
were correct about the ravine that started the war. They said that
perhaps the ravine would be one of the later wars, but then put all
their forces to the ravine, so it's a good thing it worked out for them.
It's also a good thing that the Vlagh is attacking their realms one at a
time, instead of a four-pronged attack that would spread out their
forces, and prevent them from defending their realms adequately.
Veltan, for his part, hires the Trogite
Commander Narasan, finding him by luck as Narasan posed as a beggar on the streets
of one city. Trogites have enormous armies; more than can be easily
transported by ship, I would say, but it gets done, anyway. Maags raid
and sometimes burn Trogite ships, so it is said often that tensions
would be high, but we never see it, and Narasan cooperates easily with
Sorgan. There is no sign of animosity between them or their troops at
all, in the book.
The battle in the ravine is easily won,
even though the characters often say they are in trouble... again.
Zelana commands the weather, which fills the ravine with snow. Later,
Eleria causes a very warm wind to blow in from the bay, and it melts the
snow in a single day -incredible! The resulting floods kill all the
beasts in the ravine, so the armies can walk freely through to the other
end. One group builds a fort to block the ravine, while the other group
builds a wall to block off the ravine at the other end. It is said that
the flood will probably overflow the berm of the city of Lattash, but it
doesn't, and nobody is ever in trouble. Red Beard and Longbow, two
natives of Dhrall, conclude that some beasts have made their way through
tunnels to haunted ruins on the side of the ravine. It's very strange
that nobody has properly explored the "cities", and that even Zelana and
Veltan are not curious about them.
They plan an ambush for the cities, and
easily defeat the beasts, until they start popping up out of the
mole-holes. Fortunately, Veltan's Dreamer dreams up some volcanoes,
which fill the caves with lava, ending the war. There is so much killing
that Zelana suddenly gets squeamish, and goes back to her reclusive cave
In that time, Sorgan is furious that he
won't get paid, and Narasan is convinced to stay behind until Sorgan
does get his gold. I find it ludicrous that none of the Maags have
raided the Trogite ships to get the gold that those soldiers were
obviously paid, until Zelana gets back.
Red Beard and Longbow go in search of a
new village location, as Lattash will be overrun by lava by the end of
the year -or night -or month; it depends from which chapter the
information is taken. Red Beard's chieftain can't leave, he is so
attached to the village, so Red Beard is chosen as the new chief. I have
some hope for the next books in this series, as this part was much
better written than all 375 pages before it, though I still think
Longbow and his shaman's interference with another tribe in helping to
choose Red Beard would have caused another war. Apparently, the tribes
of Zelana's realm are always at war with each other (due to her getting
bored with humans and completely ignoring them for eons to play with her
pink dolphins). But the two tribes that have converged on Lattash have
not a single incident between them.
It's not that I want everybody to be
fighting amongst themselves, but when the author tells us two groups are
mortal enemies, then they get along fine, taking suggestions easily and
without question, it is very difficult to believe. The characters here
were just used to move in whatever direction the author wanted them to
go. There was no logic whatsoever, and little consistency. I cannot
recommend this book, but will probably continue the series at some
point, just to get to the conclusion.