Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Dark Glory War

So I guess I'm back on my Michael Stackpole kick again. Two days ago, I finished reading The Dark Glory War.

This is actually a prelude to his DragonCrown War Cycle (which I just started rereading) and sets up the event of that trilogy.

In this book, Tarrant Hawkins and his friends, Leigh Norrington, Naysmith Carver, and Rounce Playfair, become men at a pivotal moment in history. The forces of Chytrine, the evil queen of the north, have been found near their home in Oriosa. Soon Tarrant, Leigh, and Nay are on the adventure of a lifetime, traveling with heroes of every stripe to stop Chytrine and bring her threat to an end.

But as Tarrant learns, being a hero sometimes isn't an easy road to walk, especially when you can't always identify who your enemies really are.

Once again, Stackpole does a great job creating an engaging, rich story. One of his fortes is world- and culture-building and he puts it to good use in this world.

For example, one of the most fascinating things about Tarrant and his friends is that they all wear masks in public. All the nobles of Oriosa do; to be barefaced is to be naked. Whenever I read a Stackpole book, I know I'm going to be dropped into a different culture that's been well put-together with a deep history.

I do have a problem with this book, though, and it revolves around Tarrant Hawkins. If you've read this book and then go on to Fortress Draconis, the first book in the DragonCrown War Cycle, you'll basically ruin the first big surprise of the DragonCrown War Cycle. Or, at the very least, you'll ruin what's supposed to be the first big surprise of the DragonCrown War Cycle. That's what happened to me at any rate. I got to the end of Fortress Draconis, I hit the "big reveal," and my response was, "Well, duh! I knew that already!"

The problem is that to really understand what's happening in the DragonCrown War Cycle, you have to read The Dark Glory War first. Many of the concepts and history behind the trilogy is explained in the prelude.

It's not a reason to not read the books, it's just a warning. If you like some high fantasy adventure, you can't go wrong with this book and the ones that follow.

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