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Nature Abhors a Vacuum (The Aielund Saga) (Volume 1) Paperback – November 28, 2016
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Aielund is a land stuck in medieval times. The story follows the adventures of a young man named Aiden who must solve a childhood mystery that has left him with nightmares for most of his life. Starting out with his friend Pace, he quickly finds himself in over his head, being chased by wolves, bandits, and even well-armed mercaneries. Little does he know he's become unwittingly involved in a plot to kidnap the Princess and overthrow the King of Aielund. He gets help from a beautiful but mysterious priestess, a forest ranger, and a quirky sorceress who has powers not seen in the kingdom in over 100 years.
Will all this be enough to help Aiden solve the mystery identity of the kidnappers, save the Princess, and defend the crown from those who would see it replaced? Probably. :)
For those of us who played the modules, we will be transported back in time to long nights of madly pressing keys, loading and reloading after losing challenging fights, and a story so good that we found ourselves crying when ... well, I won't tell you when. For those of you that haven't played the modules, you'll read a story with well-developed characters that have multiple facets to their personalities and lots of grey situations where the answers aren't easy and often unsatisfying - but very compelling!
Not unlike the first module, Stephen's writing is a little stilted in this first book, but he's a quick learner - it becomes much better in the second book, and I expect by the time we're done with book three it will be world-class, just like his modules. Don't let this minor point stop you from reading - for the price you pay, there is no better buy available on Amazon!
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!
On the other hand, this book is testament to the fact that what works really well in a computer game doesn't necessarily translate well to a novel. Savant is clearly still polishing his writing skills. The book has clearly been edited; what errors exist are rare and generally don't throw you out of the plot.
Unfortunately, Savant's writing is bland and pedesterian. He doesn't have the depth or the range to deal with the situations brought up in the book, such as what happens with Nellise, or the political corruption. It reads like what it is; the novelization of an RPG game. You can hear the dice rolling.
I look forward to the next books in the saga anyway, because Savant's plot gets much deeper and better. (The plot is fine anyway; it's the execution that needs improvement.) I hope that through practice (and maybe writing workshops) his writing skills get up to the task, because this series has amazing potential.