Hi ya’ll! I’m gonna be vague about specifics because this is one book you don’t want spoiled!
“Live and Learn” delivers on what I’ve come to expect from this author. Non-stop action, intrigue, dynamic characters, a strong voice, and a grand adventure.
The novel starts out in the same scene from the Valdaar’s Fist saga’s first book. The point of view is from a different character. The rest of the novel follows this character and you witness the events from the other side of the veil.
Structurally, the author’s writing experience comes through wonderfully as the novels are released. This book started on a action note and didn’t lull. The saga itself is a real progression of a writer’s voice becoming more focused and unique.
From the very beginning, I’ve loved the way the author turns the classic concepts of good and evil on it’s head. The way the story is presented, makes you cheer for the would be bad guys. Reading this book was hard but rewarding. We as a society tend to chose one side or the other in a given situation, often without any regard to the person who’s opinions are different. This novel achieves something high fantasy writing is suppose to do, it makes you feel and think. It opens your mind and heart. I found myself so connected with the party members of the first four novels, it was hard to give the adventurers in this novel a fair assessment. Then, as I read, I found myself celebrating in this party’s successes. This saga provides the unique opportunity to witness the lives of both sides of the conflict. You laugh with them, you cry with them, you find joy in thier success.
Finally!!!! (I may have done a happy dance when I started reading this novel). So, previously, a small criticism I had was the common troupe of the female character being in a supportive
role, usually a healer or ranged fighter. In this book, the leader of the party and another prominent character are both female: one is a sorcerer and the other a paladin. I am excited to see women portrayed more on equal footing! .
By now, you can tell I’m going to give this book a five star mithril rating (see my post ‘Don’t Attack the Sundae, for my inspiration for my rating scale). However, I’ve been doing a lot of research on trends and the writing industry in general, so I can provide authors, even with five star reviews, something to grow as a writer. I read an article the other day about race in fantasy works. It talked about including persons of color in the cast of characters, which is sorely lacking from most fantasy novels. Now, if you know anything about fantasy, you know the Drow race have dark skin complexions. So, while these works have Drow, the race is perpetually negative (with few exceptions) in the D&D mythos. I’d like to see a main character in this series with something other than a white skin tone. We all love Toilken and Lewis, but we have a duty as authors to grow beyond the writers of decades before, and adapt to modern progressions.
Bottom line: if you like fantasy novels, you should read this book. It’s different and yet familiar and exceedingly fantastic!
[Disclaimer: I agreed to read and provide an HONEST review in exchange for a free copy of the book.]