Every exciting and well-written fantasy tale is usually exciting and well-written in its own way, but poorly-executed fantasy tales are all alike.
Nowhere did that feel more clear than when I was reading this book presented by Dorrance Publishing, Kristyn the Huntress: The War of Darkness by Patrick Weaver, finding my first impressions to be similar to the ones I had when I read Aphelion Book One: The Adventure by William Dennis IV. It might be from different authors and using different settings and characters from each other, but when you get right down to it, it’s the same thing over and over again.
Well, no point in wasting time. Let’s just get right through this!
The Story: Stop Me If You’ve Already Heard This One…
Kristyn is a huntress of the Forest People, one of the four main clans in this mystical land. Her job is to help unite these rivaling groups against the return of the evil Lord Tibius, who was believed to have been destroyed years ago. Tibius makes his grand return with an army of armored soldiers and steel-plated eagles, along with his own brand of terrible sorcery, which can bend the elements and wild beasts to his will. Yet Kristyn must keep the peace between the four camps if they are to stand any chance of defeating Tibius once and for all.
And before you ask, why, no, of course this isn’t anything like that other epic fantasy tale, The Lord of the Rings! Tibius certainly isn’t the Dark Lord Sauron and the alliance between the uniquely-skilled clans isn’t anything like the alliance of horse riders, knights, elves, dwarves, and hobbits from Mr. Tolkien’s grand saga (for one thing, the latter was a far more believable and interesting group than the former).
The Cast: So Ragtag A Band, It’s Almost Generic
To give you an idea of what these fantasy human cultures are like, here’s what the synopsis for Kristyn the Huntress on the Dorrance homepage has to say:
There are four local clans: the Cave Dwellers, skilled in explosives and stealth; their enemy, the Forest People, skilled in forest layout and tracking; the Roamers, skilled in weapon making; and the Cliff People, skilled in fighting.
Now, as diverse as these groups sound, I honestly couldn’t tell their representative characters apart from each other. Kristyn of the Forest People is the only really distinctive name. Everyone else gets forgettable names like Prowler, Meran, and Thorm.
Granted, under some good writing, these names might be applied to some very detailed and fascinating characters, but not here. No, here, everyone sounds exactly the same: stating the obvious (i.e., “We’ve fallen into a giant hole with no light!”) with the occasional pithy joke (i.e., “Whatever made you think we couldn’t defeat this eight-foot-tall sorcerer with a nine-foot-long sword and powers far beyond our comprehension?”).
The Setting: Ye Olde Fantasy Mish-Mash
There isn’t much to say about this place. We’re never given a proper name for where they are (like Tolkien’s Middle-earth or Jim Butcher’s Alera). It is, however, the place where it’s apparently pretty easy to find forests next to caves and cliffs next to deserts–that, or the author has no sense of scale. Oh, and this is also the kind of place where saying magic spells (at least from Lord Tibius’s perspective) is apparently as easy as adding the suffix “-eiro” to what you want (seriously, what did you expect a spell like “Flameiro” to produce?).
Final Verdict: An “A” For Effort, A “C+” For Execution
…Actually, that’s about it. Nothing more need be said here.
It’s back to the Digital Domains reviews next Tuesday. As always, thanks for reading and for your input, everyone!
I received a complimentary copy of Kristyn the Huntress: The War of Darkness as a member of the Dorrance Book Review Team. Visit dorrancebookstore.com to find out how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.
Bibliography: Weaver, Patrick. Kristyn the Huntress: The War of Darkness. Pittsburgh: Dorrance Publishing, 2010.