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Dark Lord: Book One of the Falconfar Saga Hardcover – November 13, 2007
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About the Author
Ed Greenwood is known for his role in creating the Forgotten Realms setting, part of the world-famous Dungeons and Dragons franchise. His writings have sold millions of copies worldwide, in more than a dozen languages. Greenwood resides in the Canadian province of Ontario.
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Let me start off by saying I read a LOT of fantasy, and as such can enjoy a shallow tale of swords and sorcery. I've been a fan of Greenwood since, well, the original Forgotten Realms years and picked this up hoping to be transported back to the days when the genre was fresh, and closer to the RPG roots from whence it originated.
How disappointed I was.
This is a terrible book and really smacks of a half-hearted attempt at a pay-day for Greenwood.
The writing is lazy, virtually unedited as far as I can see (as another reviewer noted, the word 'shapely' is used almost every page - also, I silently screamed every time I read the word 'wherefore' it's used so often). Random plot devices, hideously cliched exposition, uninteresting characters, lack of any real storyline... I could go on. But I won't. I've wasted enough of my life reading this trash.
If you prefer your brain cells to stay in your head as opposed to sluicing out your ears, avoid.
I decided to review it almost entirely on the strength of the title, "Dark Lord", with the incredible artwork on the cover enticing me further. It embarrasses me somewhat to say that I actually had no idea of what it was about... But it paid off. If I had read the blurb, I would have chosen a different book. It's about a man who travels to his own fantasy world, and I generally avoid these books, for reasons which will be explained below...
But before I heap praise onto this book, there is one major thing that stops this book from receiving full marks. There isn't a particularly strong plot. The story is driven by consequence, rather than the goal, which is equally indirect - wander around until the main character feels right. But it IS the first in a trilogy, and the foundation is laid for a stronger story arc overall, which offers some comfort.
So if it's not in the plot, where does the strength of this plot lie? The answer is pretty much everywhere else. The obvious one to say would be the Characters, and they are done very well, particularly the main characters: Rod and Taeauna. But I'm not going to go into that because, in my opinion, there is a much more interesting aspect to the story.
It's not the action either, although there's plenty of it, again done very well. This varies between tense, serious fighting, to the more comedic situations of the characters being attacked while bathing or making love. It's a broad range of writing types, and I'm quite impressed.
But the thing that really stood out was how well the modern character interacted with his world. This is the thing that makes me wary of these types of books in general, because in nearly every thing I've read with a modern day character there is a pattern: initial wonder, immediate denial, acceptance of destiny, forget that the modern world exists. This isn't strictly adhered to, but generally occurs in the first few chapters. In this book however, the main character is constantly reminding hi
Self that he's from our world, for instance saying that something is as heavy as a cart, at which the other characters become confused. While there is a Vague resemblance of that cycle, it's less obvious, and doesn't complete even at the end of the book. In fact, he's a pretty useless hero, following Taeauna around trying to Learn about the world.
And the other interesting aspect is that while most of these type of books are people who stumble across the fantasy world, or maybe dream it up, Rod is the author of a series of books about the world. Now that wouldn't be so different in itself, but there is also a computer game of the series. It's that computer game company, Holdencorp, who have made the world of Falconfar such a terrible place, because of the simple dynamics of video games (ie in video games, there needs to be lots of enemies for the player to kill, so there's lots of enemies in falconfar since Holdencorp acquired rights). It's this kind of thing that makes the book so unique.
I really would like to give this book 5/5, but since the plot is lacking I don't think I can. But I loved it, and plan to recommend it to everyone. Including you. Read it.
All too often authors can be very boring in the middle of their stories, like a walk through a bog. I found myself pushing through so many parts that were not enjoyable and boring. Greenwood has a love of being surreal and confusing the reader with vague atmospheres and non-linear time schemes.
With that said, the creator and author has a great concept in Falconfar. I love the protagonist and love the concept of a book/story/computer game coming to life. I also appreciated new creatures and new concepts of life. All too often the same dwarf and elf cultures pop up in Fantasy. Falconfar does seek to be very creative and unique in this way, and exploring it was interesting.
However... much like a movie where the main characters get involved with too much bedroom activities and distracts the audience from the overall goal of the story, so too the Falconfar series borders on a Penthouse Forum. Maybe I am being too harsh, but the very nature of sex can muddy a plot and sidetrack the main push of one (no pun intended). For those of you hard up for a sexual story, don't bother, for these books do not satisfy those requirements either.
Also, the author has too many characters. I found myself wanting to write down and keep track of every name and to who they belong, etc etc. Much like a homework assignment! Greenwood also like throwing characters in "willy-nilly" without much consequence
What I found frustrating is Greenwood also chooses to switch characters and scenes too quickly, thereby leaving the audience hanging so abruptly, that in the time it takes one to recover, your already in another land or in another castle witnessing a overly bloody scene or sexual act. In this whole process, One finds themself reeling having to rereading pages to clarify. I also found myself preparing and trying to anticipate to compensate for this as well.
I have to admit, that I have not yet finished book 3, yet I am at the limit of patience with the story. Too many characters with no reason or history, in and out of dimensions without explanations, dreamlike acid trips explained from characters experiencing magic, all are wearing thin.
Sadly the author does not believe in keeping it simple (like Bilbo traveling to the great mountain with the dwarves).
In summary, if I had to buy these books, I'd be upset. Since the public library let me obtain the stories without financial strain, I am grateful. In many regards I did enjoy the story, even though Greenwood is on the verge of porn. I also believe that the level of gore goes a bit too far in Falconfar. I am sure that Aragorn or Legolas hewed many a limbs or decapitated many foes, yet Tolkien didn't overdue the description of these actions because it didn't advance the story.
With some refinement, easing of porn and simplification, these books and the Falconfar world have real potential, for the concept, unique qualities and richness of Falconfar could of been something great.