Monday, March 4, 2013

Espionage, Magic and Intrigue Blended Well: Shaken not Stirred (Book Review)

State of Grace is a phenomenal beginning of a series. For starters Wolf Dasher is a likable character, he doesn't feel like a self-insert character or a man without flaws, he has vulnerabilities. There’s a romantic, passionate side to him as well as a cunning deadliness.

The story draws strong parallels to our modern world but is different enough to be interesting, you find yourself wanting to learn more about Urland and Alfar as the pages turn. This book is a little politics heavy, there are a lot of players involved and histories between the nations. If you’re into that aspect of world-building then you’ll love it. Personally, I had a little trouble keeping up with some of the subplots but it all came together nicely in the end.

I think Silverleaf was easily my favorite part of it all. I’m one to root for the villains and Sagius Silverleaf (how could you not root for someone with such a cool name?) is one clever and dangerous elf.  The highlight of the story for me was the card game between Silverleaf and Wolf. The game design itself was interesting which is a credit to Phythyon’s experience in writing role playing games. The dialogue in that scene, the suspense, the way Silverleaf gets under Wolf’s skin was all very well done.

I have to mention Ravager as well - a sadist with a unique shadow ability - he added just the right amount of physical menace to Silverleaf’s mental machinations. We were also briefly introduced to a few members of Urland’s Shadow Service and I can only hope that as the series progresses we will learn more of the Shadow Service and its members with unique gifts. That was a huge part of the story’s intrigue for me.

State of Grace on the surface level can be said to be 007 in a fantasy setting, and it does have a number of things in common with that series, but I would say that it stands on its own merits. A totally solid story, interesting characters with cool names, and a thrilling ride till the end.