by Alexey Pehov
Translated by Andrew Bromfield;
Cover Artist: Kenkai Kotaki
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765324054
Date: 24 April 2012 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The third book of the Chronicles of Siala, opens in the immediate aftermath of the events of Shadow Chaser . The band sent to recover the Rainbow Horn from the depths of Hrad Spein. Harold knows that he must face this challenge alone, because one person has a better chance to advance than a whole group. The journey through the Forest of Zagraba isn't simple either, but chance encounters provide opportunity.
Harold enters Hrad Spein alone, but must outwit his nemesis. Everything starts off well as he avoids traps and monsters. But when he relaxes, he is nearly killed. The loss of a simple but handy tool, creates complications for the rest of his dungeon adventure. It will not be a surprise to readers to know that Harold will make it out of Hrad Spein. Of course, if everything was that simple, there wouldn’t be a story to tell.
This is the conclusion of a classic fantasy adventure series. It was originally published in Russian and has been translated by Andrew Bromfield. As the third book of a series, it is not the best starting point, although there is plenty of material that explains what came before.
I found the tale refreshing. That may be a statement of what I have been reading more than what is being published. Harold is a prototypical thief hero of a dungeons and dragons adventure. He leads a group of adventurers to find an important artifact. Trouble ensues. There are deaths along the way that are permanent which has slipped out of some classic fantasy. Sure there are several common fantasy tropes, but they fit the story as it is told.
I liked the interplay of the races, as each had a similar racial enemy. The elves and the orcs, the dwarves and the gnomes, and even humans and vampires have too much in common to truly get along. Many years of war and death have also spread animosity. The shadow world base for the world is interesting and there is definitely more that could be done in this setting, even though the quest is completed.
I came to this series based on the recommendation of a coworker. I was a little hesitant, because I didn’t know if this would read be as daunting as some Russian literature. The translation was smooth and didn't lock in any specific cultural references which would be difficult to follow.
If you want to enjoy a fun adventure, this series is worth your time. There are dungeon adventures and an epic classical fantasy battle against the evil mastermind. There is also an interesting subplot involving a secret Master as well that will keep readers turning pages.