Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Review: Wytchfire by Michael Meyerhofer

Rowen Locke is a man at a crossroads. His dream of becoming a knight of the crane has been shattered after years as an apprentice. His only plan is to return to his home city of Lyos a place with nothing for him but unpleasant memories. Luckily he finds work as a caravan guard with a travelling merchant unaware how drastically his life is about to change. Meanwhile Fadarah a half-breed outcast sorcerer leads an army of mercenaries in a campaign against the free cities. Most of the battles are one-sided as Fardah unleashes his nightmare, a beast of unfathomable power which he can barely control. The terrible secret is that the nightmare used to a Shel'ai like him, a friend who was exposed to unimaginable powers. There are others of their band of outcasts who were exposed to the same power who lie dormant in comas. When one awakens and has plans of her own Fadarah's plans are left in jeopardy.

The highlight of this novel is undoubtedly the depth of the characters. Meyerhofer does an excellent job in exposing each character layer for layer. I especially liked the distinction he made in how Fardah viewed himself compared to how other characters viewed him. Rowen's past unfolds well throughout the story in a way that is both unobtrusive to the plot and makes a great deal of sense.

Pacing is well controlled and the plot moves along nicely. My only concern in this area is Rowen encounters a former companion, Jalist Hewn, fairly early in the story. Jalist ends up joining Fardah's army which is fine as he stated he would but it is implied that he had been with them for some time despite the fact that at most several weeks could have passed since he encountered Rowan.

The world building is solid; there are the equivalent of elves and dwarves but with enough of a twist to remain interesting. The biggest plus for me in this area that it never distracts from the plot itself or threatens to overshadow it.

All in all strong characters and a focussed approach to the plot make for a solid read. 8.25/10.