- Paperback: 198 pages
- Publisher: Wildside Press (December 10, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1479404640
- ISBN-13: 978-1479404643
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 49 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Relics of War: A Legend of Ethshar Paperback – December 10, 2014
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This time, Ishta has found something strange and wonderful, a talisman that shows strange, glowing shapes when touched. Such ancient devices could be harmless… or lethal. Garander makes her show it to their father, Grondar, who sends Garander off with the talisman to show it to the local Baron's magicians. They cannot identify it… and refuse to return it, something which makes Ishta so furious she won't speak with Garander for a long time.
And then Garander finds her in the woods again, but this time she has not found a talisman, but a person – a mysterious wanderer all in black who calls himself "Tesk". Tesk seems harmless, but frighteningly strange; he lives in the woods, under no roof, never staying in the same place, and moves with a superhuman speed and dexterity.
Garander remembers vague tales of a Northern weapon – a man fused with a demon, dressed all in black, the shatra. Grondar remembers more: that the shatra were so dangerous that only a very powerful wizard – or a full-grown dragon – could face one and live.
Is Ishta speaking with a living remnant of the war that shattered the world?
And if she is… what should Garander do?
As with all of Lawrence Watt-Evans' stories I've read, the tale draws you in quickly, giving you a grasp of the characters without seeming to spend time detailing them. By the time Garander's heading out into the world on his own, nervous about coming to the Baron's castle by himself, you already know him well enough to worry for him about what will happen. While reading other books set in Ethshar certainly won't hurt, the way Relics is written eliminates the need; all the information required to understand the plot and characters is included transparently in the prose without infodumps.
Relics of War is a good title; it doesn't just refer to the shatra Tesk, but to the talismans and weapons he carries and owns, and, more generally, to the broken and still-healing countries around him, as well as the people who have survived the war, and wish to avoid another.
Garander and Ishta are warm-hearted children (well, Garander's eighteen, so only a child from the point of view of someone like me, I suppose), with Ishta being somewhat more trusting, and Garander trying to be the rational, cautious one. But both of them are willing to give Tesk the benefit of the doubt – and, to their surprise, so is their father Grondar.
Tesk himself is a figure of considerable pathos, despite his potential power. He is, literally, a leftover weapon, a creation whose sole purpose was to be an almost indestructible force on the battlefield, striking terror into the Ethsharitic forces. With his entire country no longer in existence – even the cities ruined – he has no purpose, no home, and nowhere to go. After twenty years, he has discovered the true pain of loneliness, and wishes only a few friends.
But he represents both vast danger, and vast opportunity, to the other powers still present in Ethshar, and they will not leave him alone for long…
I really enjoyed this story. Despite the fact that the plot eventually involves high politics and great danger, Garander still manages to be a driving force in the plot, and the greatest power of all isn't the shatra's superhuman strength or the wizards of the lords who come to seek him out; it is kindness and trust.
I highly recommend Relics of War!
This particular novel is set shortly after the Great War, about twenty years. A little girl in the Baronies of Sardiron stumbles across a man in the forest. Eventually they discover that he's a "shatra"--basically a magical half-man, half-demon created by the North in the war against Ethshar. The North got wiped out by not quite EVERYTHING go wiped out with them. But is he a friend, an agent of some kind, or something else?
This is a good, fast-paced book and I found myself often going "just one more chapter". The story is intriguing and different than your average fantasy story (Watt-Evans is good at this) and I wanted to know how it was going to work out. The ending is solid, satisfying, and probably realistic.
One annoying apsect of this book however, and to be fair it probably wasn't the author's fault (they rarely pick the covers). Watt-Evans has been loosely dedicating a book or two to each of the various branches of magic in Ethshar. To judge from the cover on this book you'd think it was dedicated to witchcraft--no, no it's not. Not remotely. Not in the slightest way. A minor league annoyance, but an annoyance nonetheless.
Highly recommended for fans of good, fast-paced fantasy, fans of Ethshar, and of course anybody who's a fan of Lawrence Watt-Evans' works.
It takes place a generation after the Great War took place and ostensibly deals with an artefact left over from the Northern Empire, but actually deals with some more basic issues such as loyalty, redemption, and loneliness.
** beware spoilers follow **
The artefact was actually left by a half-demon/half-human who was stranded after the defeat of the Northern Empire during the Great War 20 years earlier. The main protagonist is the son of a farmer who was a soldier in the Great War. His youngest sister is a very inquisitive girl who spends a lot of time out in the woods, much to her father's dismay.
She meets the half-demon who is actually very lonely. He dropped the artefact so that she would find it.
The brother and sister become friends with the half-demon, but, when the father finds out, who fought against forces using these creatures, he spreads the word, and soon the large countries are involved.
The story is fun, because the characters are very well developed, and even wizards on opposite sides of the political spectrum cooperate to ensure that new wars do not take place. (This is very similar to some communications between scientists that actually took place during the Cold War days to prevent atomic warfare.)
In the end, the main character, the son, comes up with a clever way of defusing a very tense situation, and the family lives happily ever after.
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