As a fan of Paul E. Horsman's writing, I was excited to read the first book in The Shadow of the Revenaunt: Rhidauna. I read and reviewed Shardfall a few months ago--and was excited to visit another of Horsman's historically placed, magical adventures. How did Rhidauna stand up to review?
Summary of Rhidauna: Book 1 of The Shadow of the Revenaunt series. The night before his Coming-of-Age, Ghyll and his two friends escaped their castle on a clandestine hunt that would forever change their lives. They returned just in time to see their island castle destroyed by strange warriors from a dragonboat and flocks of burning birds. Ghyll’s birthday turned into a nightmare as they fled into the night. This begins an epic journey to find out who is trying to kill them... and most importantly, why? Fortunately, they can count on colorful new friends to assist, including a sometimes overly enthusiastic fire mage, an inexperienced paladin and a female beastmaster who is a ferocious mountain lion. In a world filled with jealous priests, corrupt magistrates, bored aristocrats and power-hungry magicians, they try to survive dark wizards, murderous golems, and fire bird attacks. It soon becomes apparent that not one but several assassins are after them. Who are these members of an obscure, long-forgotten organization? And whose cold hand reaches across the boundaries of space and time to threaten weakened Rhidauna? While the time is running the friends undertake a quest that takes them to a large part of Rhidauna. Following them, the reader is carried along on an exciting journey through a colorful world, whose people, culture and atmosphere are described with great attention to detail without the story losing momentum. Experience the quest! Grab your best travel clothes, strongest backpack and sharpest sword ... or failing that, take an easy chair, a drink and this exciting book.
Rhidauna is packed with quick adventures and character encounters. Rhidauna's scenes move quite quickly as Ghyll and his group venture throughout the empire. Sometimes, it seems that the scenes move a little too quickly--especially when Ghyll reaches the various destinations of his quest. Readers meet many characters--but, aren't able to spend as much time with them as I would have liked to better understand their roles in the main characters' journey.
Horsman creates wonderful settings and an eclectic band of main characters. With the setting, Horsman is again able to combine mythological Gods and ancient history with magic and supernatural as Ghyll and his group venture on to find his identity--and his destiny. The main characters all play sub-roles within the adventures--and have an odd assortment of "talents" that serve the storyline well as the quest progresses.
Would I recommend Revenaunt? When the final chapter ended, there were certainly hints leading readers to the next book in the series. I just didn't find myself so attached to the characters that I need to follow them into Book 2.. I liked Revenaunt--and I think others with an interest in mythology and modern fantasy will enjoy it. I do; however, think it moved a little too quickly--and I am not sure that I was able to fully appreciate the significance of each of Ghyll's quests with such short glimpses.
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In 1972 I had to do my stitch for Queen and Country, and as a bad back tied me to a desk job, I applied for a posting overseas. For the Army, that meant Surinam, then still a member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and one of the most beautiful. Once you’ve seen the jungle, you will never forget it. To keep it short, I stayed in business, slowly climbing the ladder, until in 1995 I changed direction. That year I joined a large educational institution, at a school specialized in Dutch language and integration courses for foreigners. That meant immigrants, refugees and international businessmen, an interesting mix. It was great work, on the one side teaching crash courses Dutch to high-powered people (we got a lot of very well-educated refugees) and on the other teaching reading and writing to people who had never ever held a pen before, let alone a computer. To see them growing was a reward in itself.
Unhappily, due to changed legislation the language school closed in mid-2012. In the meantime, I had started my first book (Rhidauna) in 2009 and it got published by Zilverspoor Publishers just before I got laid off. As my age, five years from retirement, made it nigh on impossible to find something else, I started building a career as an independent author. SF and Fantasy have fascinated me since my high school days, but apart from some juvenile trash, I never seriously tried to write anything. But after several false starts and associated discouraged intervals, a spark began to grow and mid-2010, the first two parts of Shadow of the Revenaunt were more or less written. My style is probably a bit old-fashioned, Fantasy as a heroic tale with sympathetic heroes/heroines and black villains, in which good always triumphs in the end. I don’t use my characters as cannon fodder; they get hurt, but their dying is rare. One of the other elements in my writing I think important is, that both male and female characters have their own lives and goals. Most of them exist primarily for themselves, not as a prop or a love interest for other MC’s. The only character who did die, was actually a prop and I had him killed just to take that away from my lead MC.