Grudgebearer (Grudgebearer Trilogy)
by J.F. Lewis
Review by Jon Guenther
Pyr Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616149840
Date: 02 September 2014 List Price $18.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
There's a lot going on in Grudgebearer, the first book of the proposed trilogy by author of the paranormal Void City series, J.F. Lewis. This is the story of Kholster, a nearly immortal leader of a race known as the Aern.
An interesting thing to note right off is that this was a race of supernatural warriors created by the Eldrennai but they were not beneficent warriors defending their creators; rather, they were enslaved and forced to fight. That made this different enough in premise from other comparable fantasies that I chose to read it. I also thought it interesting that because of the connection between these once enslaved warriors and their creators, there was an "oath" of peace between them.
The story also has a number of high-magic elements such as the sentient armor worn by the Aern that is still connected with them and how one fateful move by an Eldrennai prince can suddenly shatter the more than 600 years of peace between the two factions.
While I enjoyed most of the novel, I was disappointed by the lack of depth in some areas. A key aspect in the success of creating an epic fantasy is ensuring there is enough amplitude in the project, both in terms of plot and characterization, to carry the reader 400-plus pages. I didn't always feel that Mr. Lewis rose to that occasion, although in most cases the prose was adequate even if the pace felt a bit plodding. The novel also took a little work at times to understand what was going on, again something that made me wonder if I would be able to still gain enjoyment out of it.
Despite those two cons I cited, I found most of the book entertaining and I think fantasy readers should give it a chance and judge for themselves. There was quite a bit of fresh and original content, and that was enough that I give the book a positive recommendation. I wouldn't go so far as to tout this as the best stuff around, but good enough to make the cut for its genre on its own merits.