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Legacies of Fire and Steel (The Aielund Saga) (Volume 4) Paperback – November 8, 2016
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I purchased these books since I was familiar with the author's work as a module writer in the Neverwinter Nights computer game by Atari (also excellent work). I figured it would be a fun series to revisit in a novel format and gave it a try. As stated above, I finished reading four books in a short time. That said, here is what I think of the writing:
The concept is based upon two young men who find themselves pulled into an adventure they were not expecting. What I found really intriguing is that unlike the majority of fantasy books, the protagonists are not some super warriors that fight their way through impossible odds and worry if they break a sweat. Instead, the characters are realistic; they're young, inexperienced and are not really prepared for what awaits them. In conflicts, they don't act like the Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail shouting, "Tis only a flesh wound!" and fight on like nothing is wrong. In contrast, when they are hurt the effects could be minor or it can be serious enough to pull them out of the battle completely. Also, if a significant threat is facing them, the characters have the common sense to be afraid and at times try to avoid the conflict if possible. Instead of fighting with brute force, they rely on whits, developed skill and a little luck. Overall, I really enjoy the characters in how they interact, deal with their personal demons and interpersonal conflicts amongst the group.
The plot itself is based on the module that he wrote for NWN but how he pulls the story together in the novel is smooth and believable. Often the heroes find themselves not looking for adventure, but are manipulated into situations outside of their control or they are just pawns of events transpiring around them. I feel this series is worthy of the high marks I gave it and I look forward to the future installments!
In Legacies of Fire & Steel, we finally get to see the confrontation that Aiden Wainwright has been preparing for for most of his life. The battle does not disappoint!
The main thing that I think I love most about this series is that not everyone gets a perfectly happy ending. It's an epic adventure that has it's fair share of downfalls and problems, and no one emerges unchanged.
Dark happenings have had difficult effects on the characters. Past events weigh heavily on some members while others have become stronger in spite of them. The author weaves the different threads of each individual with a deftness that Fate would envy.
Moral dilemmas and the quandaries of what is right and what is wrong are considered and argued by the characters. This is one of my favorite things to do as a writer. I like having characters discuss issues and their feelings about it, even argue about it. It's an excellent way at looking at problems. I've learned a great deal from writing such things, and throughout my life by reading such things. I find a good book to be one that makes you a little smarter just by reading it.
These conflicts could very well doom the mission and the very fate of the world. Various entities our heroes meet along the way have their own agendas and goals to follow that prevent the quest from carrying on.
Then of course there are dragons, sandstorms, barbarians, armies, giant bad guys without weaknesses, priests, criminals and countless others who would like to interfere with the saving of the world.
Do they save the world? Hmmmm . . . With Stephen's books you never know . . .
I truly feel for these characters, and watching how each started coming into their own in this book was heartwrenching. I found myself not wanting to put down my tablet, just keep turning the page to see what would happen next. It's been a long time since I've read an adventure quite this epic, and I'm axiously awaiting the next installment of the Aielund Saga!