Page Count: 344
Release Date: January 8th, 2016
Series: THE HEROES OF SPIRA, Book 1
Rating: 3.75/5 Stars – Liked it!
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Dranko is a thief, a former cleric, and part goblin. An outcast of the highest degree, he’s the last person anyone would expect to be summoned to the high tower of an archmage. Upon accepting the invitation, however, Dranko finds himself with seven new companions who are as equally baffled at being selected to perform a task for one of the greatest wizards in the kingdom. There’s a mercenary, a baker, a sorcerer’s apprentice, the son of a nobleman, a paladin of the church of night, a stonesmith, and an old woman who runs a farm. Yet each of these people was specifically chosen by the archmage’s spell to be a person integral to the saving of the kingdom. A dark force that has been locked away for centuries is on the verge of breaking out, and only these unlikely heroes can turn the tide and save the world.
THE VENTIFACT COLOSSUS is a wonderful outing for those who want some good old-fashioned adventure. You won’t find much grimness or morally grey characters here, just a lot of people out of their depth trying to do the best they can. The writing at times can feel like it skews slightly younger, but never in a way that felt like “bad” writing. Those familiar with D&D will see a lot of influences, particularly in the way that magic-users and clerics access (and are drained by) their magic, and in the way that our eight heroes very much seem to make up a D&D adventuring party (a rogue, a paladin, a warrior, a cleric etc.). One thing I particularly appreciated was that women, for the most part, are treated fairly equally in this medieval society, and you are as likely to see a woman warrior listed as a fabled hero as you are a man.
The author also does a fairly good job of fleshing out the characters, even with so many in the party. Chapters swap between third person limited POVs, so you get a chance to know what’s happening in everybody’s head as they figure out this destiny they’re now involved in, and try to adjust to the different personalities they’re being forced to work with. In particular I liked Morningstar, a warrior of the church of night (an order dedicated to protecting people from creatures of darkness) who is not supposed to walk in the sun, but must if she to aid her allies in their quest. Tor, a young nobleman’s son who is just to be excited to be on an actual adventure, is saved from being conceited by the fact that he believes that his role in this group is to protect the others from harm – even if that means putting himself in between them and oncoming danger. Everyone has their own little quirks, and even if sometimes they were a little too earnest, I found myself falling for this little band.
The story itself manages to be both self-contained but also set up a much larger arc that will take place over a total of five books (three of which have been released at the writing of this review). Our heroes go on quests of increasing difficulty, and much like pen-and-paper heroes, start with small monsters and work their way up to much MUCH bigger monsters (remember that colossus mentioned in the title of the book?). I should be clear, that this tale never comes off as a LitRPG, but shares much with the “classic” style adventure on which so many D&D-style games are based. Is the story particularly deep? No. Did I find myself having a grand old time watching this motley crew sneak into cultist bases or fight off flying bat-monsters? Absolutely. It’s the kind of book that’s easy to read, and I frequently convinced myself I had time for just one more chapter before I needed to put the the book down. It’s clear from the threads left hanging that we’ve only scratched the surface on why the archmages’s spell chose this particular group, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s in store.