Saturday 26 July 2014

Book Review: Darkness Rising - Book One

Greetings fellow bookworms. Waaay back when this blog first saw the light of day and I created my 'About' page, I wrote somewhere in the blurb that The Eternal Wargamer blog would primarily be a venting point for my Games Workshop gaming related shenanigans, but may also include the odd post that was about a film or programme I had seen or a book I had read if I felt that they were worth talking about. It's time I made good on that threat...welcome to my library.

This is the first book review I have ever written outside of the confines of the schoolroom, and I am not any kind of 'industry professional', but I do like to read, and I have studied the English language and literature. I am also trying to write a bit myself, and I have found that writing with any kind of real seriousness makes you look at the whole process in a different light. As a review, please don't expect this to follow a recognisable format for such articles; any resemblance to accepted 'book review' standards are purely coincidental. This is just a few words about a book I have enjoyed, and hope you might too.

The book I want to tell you about is the first in what is currently a series of four books, which collectively are called 'Darkness Rising', and written by a chap named Ross M Kitson of the UK. Book one itself is called 'Chained'. Before getting into my thoughts on the book, a smattering of basic facts about the story. It's a Fantasy Fiction tale which takes place in a unique yet familiar setting. In other words, the author has created what I came to realise quite quickly was a pretty detailed environment, but which incorporates many of the fantasy staples we know and love, allowing us to reconstruct the world in our minds without giving us a headache. The reproduction of the setting I created in my own mind is one of magic, monsters and rogues, with enough of our own real world history inspiration thrown in to make it amply believable.

'Darkness Rising' is well written in my humble opinion, and that's coming from someone who has become increasingly critical of other peoples work of late. The style is one that appeals to me, and is full of little details that hint at the amount of work that has gone into the creation of the characters and the various nations and realms in which the action is set. We are presented with a fully fledged world crafted as if by a skilled Games Master and story teller, and by the end of the novel, I was looking forward to seeing the story progress and reveal more of what has thus far only been hinted at.

The story follows a young girl sold into servitude by her parents, Emelia, and who finds herself tied to one of the great houses of the setting. She battles with inner conflicts, each facet of which tells us something about the world in which she lives. Emelia must come to terms with who she is, where she has come from and also where she belongs in a world where everyone seems to be cast as either life-bound servant or rogue beyond the protection of the realms highborn elite. Emelia must also learn to control the power within her, a wild and untethered power which must be mastered. This is a world where the denizens are strictly controlled, and power over magic and military might is jealously guarded by a greedy few. The high and mighty exploit the week for their own gain and position.

With the influence of a range of allies and adversaries, Emelia comes of age, while at the same time being swept along as the story evolves into what promises to be an epic confrontation between good and evil in later books. This first novel in the series is certainly the warm up that all great stories must have to set the scene for what must surely come later, and draws us in with tales of aloof mages, dark sorcery, griffon riding knights and carefree cutpurses. This story is the D & D adventure we all played out as young gamers brought to life as a full blown tale, and includes some interesting takes on some of the old Fantasy archetypes I haven't come across before.

The series is available both in paperback and in digital formats, and is highlighted as a '#1 Best Seller Epic Fantasy'! If you are looking for something to read, then I believe that Darkness Rising could be a refreshing change and certainly worth your time. It has been for me. I for one am ready to dive straight into Book 2, and will be back with a further review a little further down the road.

Until then gracious visitor, thanks for reading.

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