* This book was free from the author in exchange for an honest review.
* 3.5 out of 5 gnomes
Erik, his older brother Befel, and their cousin, Bryon, are leaving farm life behind on a quest to find fame and fortune. Along the way they learn, the hard way, that not everyone can be trusted and not everyone is kind.
This book has a lot of familiar fantasy elements. You have dwarves, giants, magic, treasure and war. The story, itself, is fairly typical as well, young men seeking their fortune for different reasons. What makes this book different, for me, is Erik and the message of cooperation over division. I’m used to wars between the races in fantasy novels so to read about dwarves trying to better human-dwarven relations and groups of gypsies trying to change the negative stereotypes associated with their kind. The spirit of cooperation is strong in this book.
Then, there is Erik, the honest man, also continuously called the naïve boy. His good, honest nature was a welcome contrast to Bryon’s self-centered, judgmental pessimism. I seriously wanted to smack Bryon several times in this book. Fortunately, Erik’s nature kept me from getting overly frustrated while reading. He is the kind of character that you want things to go well for. He inspires good feelings in other characters and gets them to do the right things. As the Messenger of the East says, “Your honesty, young Erik, is a little refreshing I think.”
There were some scenes centered on other characters that I’m not sure why they were put in the book. Possibly for world building, probably to give exposition for the rest of the series. You get a glimpse at the powers behind the war in Golgolthul that was initially the draw for the main characters seeking their fortunes. In this one book, though, I felt the extra scenes were distracting from the main story. I preferred hearing the stories of the Ion Gypsies. Though I do appreciate the scene at the end with the character who put the boys in harm’s way to begin with.
Overall, this is a pretty typical high fantasy adventure, albeit more of an optimistic tale than most I’ve read. There is still blood and death, but the overall theme of changing minds about stereotypes and the rarity of a truly open minded human are pleasant to read.