Since before man had taken up quill and parchment to record the history of his struggles, the Laikens had practiced their black arts. With great skill, they summoned beings from the Spirit Stream that should never have darkened the canvas of this dimension. Breaching the natural barrier that divided the worlds with their magic, the Laikens conjured demons they were barely able to control. The temple of Amendeth was carved into the holy mountain and the Laiken Empire thrived within the misty forests of the north. All about them, humans warred and found new ways to slay one another. Meanwhile, within the haze of the Norvrost and Rikon forests, the Laikens firmly held their ancient homes with the aid of the summoning lore, of which men knew nothing. And then, a man sought contact with the angels of the void, seeking to bend their wills to his own, just as did the Laikens. Dorgaiin was powerful, and soon he bound the demons that the shamans of Amendeth could never hope to master. A price was paid, however, as the forces that he channeled affected his mind. Power lust overcame him, and his ambitions grew more wicked as the days progressed. Only his servant, Baldarin, endowed with power from his master for a dark purpose, saw through his lord’s designs. Betraying him at a crucial time, Baldarin banished Dorgaiin to the Spirit Stream with the very stone from Amendeth through which he had hoped to realize his perverse aims. The stone was set in Evindale by Baldarin. Afterwards he created the Khand to keep vigil over it as it strengthened the barrier that barred Dorgaiin from the world he had hoped to conquer. Over the years the art of summoning began to die, for now even the Laikens could retrieve only the most insignificant of spirits through the fabric of the barrier. As long as the Watchstone, the Surun-Tai, remained in Evindale, things would remain thus. Rise of the Raven chronicles the efforts of the Mage of NorAmen as he struggles to free Dorgaiin from the demon haunted plains of the nether dimension where he has been exiled for over fourteen hundred years. Striving to prevent him are the five wizards of the Khand. The keepers of the stone, they have sworn to uphold the integrity of the barrier that separates the two worlds. And thus the story begins . . .
I love fantasies, but this one was kind of rough for me. This is a debut novel for the author, and I think he shows promise. The ideas in the book were good, yet I think not quite as fully realized as they could have been. First off, the book is 300 pages long and it was tedious reading for at least the first 100. I found myself confused as to who was evil, who was good, and I had trouble figuring out what was going on.
The book would have been more enjoyable if the characters had been fleshed out more. I needed someone to root for and, though I knew who the good guys were supposed to be - the King and the Khand, I didn't feel anything for them. They seemed flat and one-dimensional. I thought I finally found someone in the young boy Khand, he seemed sweet and I wanted to care about him, but he wasn't taken far enough. Not even his romance with the princess helped, that didn't feel real either. Perhaps the best character development was for the Demon Gaerath. We saw his supreme ego at the beginning move to frustration while fighting for Evindale, to even fear as he took on the Khand.
The author does have a talent for the battle scenes. He made it easy to visualize the castle walls being bombarded, the sagging stones that had been relentlessly battered. I loved the trick used to defend against the wall falling, but I won't tell so you'll be surprised, too.
In total, this being a first novel, I thought the book was okay. I'm sure those who are into lots of battle scenes than I will enjoy it more than I did. I think the author is worth looking into and see where his talent leads him in subsequent novels.
*Disclaimer: I received this book from the author to review for free. I was not required to write a positive review.
I give this book 3 Bookworms!
Paperback: 314 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (May 10, 2011)