So far, so Tolkien. We have the full cast here. The companions include a half-elf, a dwarf, a Knight, and a mage. And a kender, who is the classic thief from the Dungeons and Dragons games. Their early adventures invole a forest where the dead walk, unicorns, centaurs and flying horses. And dragonmen who turn to stone and then dust when stabbed, and evil hobgoblins and a giant slug.
My favourite characters were the dwarf, who was grumpy, a delightful and forgetful mage who repeatedly accused trees of attacking him, and the kender who couldn't help helping himself to the possessions of others and was the epitome of an ADHD child. The other characters were cliches, fulfilling stereotypical roles.
In the second half of the book other characters seemed to be added according to the needs of the plot. When love interest flags, add a barmaid and a long-lost lover. When you need a traitor add two characters so we aren't sure which it will be.
There was a cataclysmic scene when all seemed hopeless but by then I was past caring.
The best thing about it was that there were sometimes flashes of humour.
- "If every man wearing red robes was a magician, this country'd be overrun with rabbits." (B2 C2)
Other good moments:
- "Why is it ... that you are called half-elf and not half-man?" (B1 C7)
- "Our lives are measured not by gain but by giving." (B1 C11)
- "The silver moon and the red cast twin shadows that made things seen from the corner of the eye unreal and distorted." (B1 C16)
- "It was a good plan ... and probably worth about as much as smoke on the wind." (B1 C17)
- "Well, I'll be an ogre's hind end." (B1 C17) It amused me that the dwarf's curse should be so prissy.
- "It's too dark a night to walk with your eyes closed." (B2 C7)
January 2020; 369 pages