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Ruins of Legend (The Aielund Saga) (Volume 3) 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!
One of the author's strengths is in making the characters seem real. Aiden is a jack of all trades sort of character who the reader wants to succeed. Pacian is a definite anti-hero, but the reader wants him to do the dirty work and enjoys it when he does. The supporting characters all have distinct and enjoyable personalities.
Quests lead them in separate directions in an attempt to find an artifact to save the kingdom. The locations they travel to are easy to imagine without being over-described. Enemies and other characters they meet along the way are just as colorful and diverse as the primary characters.
Surprising events lead to an unexpected conclusion to this story and more questions to be answered in the next. The characters must find new resolve against despair and danger. It sets up the next one excellently.
As with the other books, the dialogue has humor scattered throughout, the battle scenes are vivid and intense. If you enjoy rousing, epic adventures, this is an excellent series for you.
Nowland had a very clever way of making sure you knew when the two parties of adventurers were doing things at the same time, never once using the words "meanwhile" or "at that same tme".
If you hate epic battles, action, and characters you can truly know, then this is not the series for you. Otherwise, enjoy!