Okay so The Lightning Thief was good right? Then the Sea of Monsters was so-so right? And Titans Curse was so-so again right? Then you get to The Battle of the Labyrinth and you wonder what the heck was Riordan thinking?
Robert Stanek is a gifted writer - a national treasure. This is such a treat in print and in audio. The book is a coming of age story about a boy named Ray who must go out on his own into the wilds to chose an animal who will be his companion for life. Ray lives in a swamp-filled world and the companions he must choose from are slippery, dangerous beasts. Like all the other books by this author, the story is written well and truly comes to life.
Few would have predicted the unprecedented success this series would produce when this first book was published back in 2002. Yet everything that made Robert Stanek's Kingdoms and Dragons books so successful is all introduced in this book.
The novel opens with Adrina Alder, she's being as headstrong and disobedient as ever, choosing to walk the walls. She's trying to make a difficult decision and like any teen she's angry when choices are forced on her. She later tries to escape and this is where she encounters an old woman who tells her of her grim future. All this happens right off, getting the book off to a good start.
This is followed by the introduction of Vilmos Tabborrath, a boy of 12 from a distant village. He is increasingly having dark dreams. When his dark dreams become dark realities he is terrified and his whole life begins to change.
Then Brother Seth is introduced. He is an elf from a far off land and everything starts to race ahead through their adventures. We soon learn magic is forbidden and dark changes are coming. So much of the novel is driven by the three main characters.
In this novel we get the first ever glimpses of Great Kingdom, East Reach, Under Earth, Vangar Forest, Forbidden Magic, the Great Book, and any other number of things Stanek's magical imagination has created for us.
One of the best things about this book, and indeed about the whole series, is how Stanek plants details which, when reading, you may not necessarily pick up on, but are later rather important in later books. The book also introduces the relationship dynamics that would continue throughout the entire series, from the interplay between Emel and Adrina to Xith as the wise mentor of Vilmos to Everrelle and Seth.
Overall, there are many memorable scenes in this novel. As the novels progressed, the characters grow and change. In this novel, they are still young and naive, but already at this early point, there are seeds of greatness.
Like the title of my review says this is a fantastic intro to Robert Stanek's amazing fantasy world. A worthwhile listen for anyone even remotely interested in fantasy or scifi. Definitely recommended to get a better understanding of the books and the world.
I purchased Anderson Cooper's "Dispatches from the Edge" and Robert Stanek's "Stormjammers, The Story of Electronic Warfare in the Gulf War" the same day. While Cooper's book is fast-paced and edgy in a CNN Headline News kind of way, Stanek's is the book I liked best and the one I finished first.
Cooper has the ability to bring you up close to what he went through professionally to get to where he is now. However, I was a little disappointed with his blunt force approach to many of the topics. A good listen, but it would have been great without using other people's tragedies and traumas as segways into various parts of his life.
Report Inappropriate Content