The first in a series of novels by D.A. Adams finds Roskin, heir to the throne of a remote, peaceful kingdom of dwarves, craving excitement and adventure.
Roskin is the son of King Kraganere and the heir of Dorkhun; he is also half dwarf and half elf. Hot-headed and impulsive he craves adventure and experience. The story follows him as he serves 'a year of isolation to find his inner peace'. It was interesting to read a story with a privileged dwarf at its centre going through his own rite of passage.
I particularly enjoyed Roskin's interactions and relationship with the old warrior Red who serves as wise counsel and mentor to the green Roskin. Together they get into plenty of brawls and scrapes. The action is not for the sake of it as the reader can see Roskin learning from his mistakes. He also takes quite a few knocks as he evolves from a coddled royal into a hardened traveller and adventurer.
As well as Red, the young dwarf is joined on his journey with some unusual and interesting characters such as Molgheon a female dwarf, Vishghu a female ogre, and Kwarck, a half-elf wizard. I would have liked a little more depth and back story but perhaps that is missing the point as Adams keeps the action coming thick and fast.
This is very much a 'land divided' with many kingdoms and disputed areas. There are also three types of dwarf: Tredjards, the Ghaldeons, and the Kiredurks. Factor in disputed human, elvish and orcish lands and you have a melting pot and plenty of scope for conflict and danger.
The novel is packed with in-fighting and scheming as well as an impressive roll call of dwarves, elves, humans, ogres and orcs. Roskin's main quest is to find and return a stolen platinum statue known as 'The Brotherhood of Dwarves' which used to symbolise the unity of the nations in the past. The unlikely group of allies assembled around Roskin find themselves venturing to Black Rock, an imposing fortress to retrieve the artefact. I would have liked more background and detail on the statue and after being mentioned it is never brought up again, but perhaps as this is a series of books its importance will become more apparent later.
I really enjoyed learning of the differences in culture between all of the lands. Adams is great at reminding us that there are many languages spoken including orcish and elvish. This helps in making this world solid and more vivid.
Roskin certainly discovers the harsh realities of this world as he endures firsthand the suffering of the slaves at the Slithsythe Plantation which is ran by amoral and sadistic orcs.
I found the addition of buffalo to this fantasy world unusual but I suppose there is no rule book saying that there can't be. The plantation also seems to belong more to the Antebellum South of the nineteenth century than fantasy fiction but again it is used to good effect in highlighting the cruelty of the orcs.
The novel is short and sharp but always entertaining even if it does end rather abruptly. The main purpose of this entry seems to be in setting the scene: introducing characters as well as the history and geography that I am sure we will get to know much better. It's a good opening effort and I will be looking out for the sequels and hope they will give us a little more depth to what is a promising start.
First Published 2005 by D.A. Adams
This Edition 2011 by Seventh Star Press
Review by Daniel Cann
D. A. Adams was born in Florida and raised in East Tennessee. He received a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of Memphis in 1999 and has taught college English for over a decade. His first novel, The Brotherhood o [...]
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