Wednesday, October 12, 2016

War of the Staffs – review

Authors: Steve Stephenson & K.M. Tedrick

Release date: 2016

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: The goddess Adois brings a powerful vampire warlock named Taza through the void to turn Muiria into a planet of evil using her powerful staff. Needing an army, he turns a race of dark elves into vampires, but Prince Tarquin is born to fulfil a prophecy to stop Taza.

The prince cannot do it alone. The Wizard Celedant sends him to the Borderers, an elite group of dwarves to learn how to fight, while the wizard begins his search for the Staff of Adaman, the only thing capable of thwarting Taza and Adois’ Staff.

War of the Staffs is the search for two pieces of the ancient Staff of Adaman to counter Adois’ plans. The darkness is rising and using the black power of the Staff of Adois and his army of dark elves, giants, and orcs, Taza will begin a reign of terror the planet will not soon forget.

The review: I like the merging of fantasy and vampirism as a concept and it is done all too rarely. Whilst there are impressive series like the Hendee’s Noble Dead series (which starts with the volume Dhampir) they are few and far between.

So the idea of an epic fantasy series with a main vampire villain was a real draw. The book itself hits the main fantasy notes that it should and even manages to peel away from the standard hero quest by having the young hero placed into a Dwarven army squad rather than out adventuring (though, of course, he rapidly rises through the ranks despite being the only human). However all was not perfect – and that was beyond my own inability to take a hero called Tarquin seriously.

If we take the scenario described above, the Dwarves speak in some oldee worldy dialogue that was distracting and yet all seemed to speak “common” rather than dwarvish. Given that it was a dwarven squad, in a dwarven army, in a dwarven city, the authors could have made ample use of language barriers within the narrative and the situation (despite being fantasy) felt unnatural.

The prose itself was rather simplistic. There was nothing essentially wrong with the prose, it just wasn’t really anything special and could have used a good deal of spit and polish to make it more evocative and less basic. There was a great deal less grit than I would have liked as well.

The vampirism was interesting in that there was a mystical fire in the vampiric blood that infected one who was turned. The idea of trying to build a vampire world steps away from a self-limiting creature and begs questions around food supplies etc.

However, the story is not incompetent and the whole thing is above average. 6 out of 10, but it didn’t rock my world.

No comments: