on February 24, 2000
Contrary to most of the more recent reviews, I thought that this book was pretty good, despite a few flaws and misdirections.
I'll go through the problems first. Several times throughout the book, and I think this was either an oversight of the editor or a printing problem, a word in a sentence such as "an" or "of" would be conspicuously missing, and occasionally a phrase would be repeated, "he sheathed the sheathed the sword." However, despite these flaws the writing was good and strong, with more than adequate descriptive power, and it was clear.
Another little problem was the lack of a well-established goal. While Lord of the Isles would be a good name for the entire saga, this book really didn't have anything to do with the Lord of the Isles. Events occur in this book which the characters are forced to react to, but there is no definite goal, it just sort of plays out until it reaches a logical place to stop.
The third main point is the enemies/monsters/demons. All sound the same. "It had short, stumpy legs, but the length of its torso/body made it almost as tall as Cashel. It also had extraordinarily long arms/teeth." It seems that everything evil or carnivorous now has, by definition, to look the same.
I'm not sure if this next point is good or bad, but I'm really starting to notice a big trend in these fantasy saga. A young shepherd finds out he's gonna rule the world, and in fact his ancestor is in his head. He has a huge, steadfast friend, an older, wiser guide, and several beautiful young women competing for his affections. Sound like Jordan's Wheel of Time series or Goodkind's Sword of Truth? I thought so.
On the plus side, this world stands out in that not every woman is "one of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen." Also, the characters are well defined, and in various situations, they react according to their character, instead of leaping through some hidden logic to the perfect answer. Unfortunately, they never seem to get into situations which require brilliant logic leaps to get out of; instead, it's usually a "slugging" match.
Still, the action and various locales, including Hell, are very well defined and sometimes quite original, and the author clearly knows what he's talking about in nearly every field. The magic is mostly consistent, but I found myself wondering why some wizards always needed sacrifices for to work their magic, while Tenoctris was always able just to wave her grass around and accomplish anything.
Another unfortunate occurance is that the two best main characters leave/die before the end of the book.
The bottom line -- Realizing that this book isn't a complete story but the beginning of "the epic saga of the Lord of the Isles," I can look past the rudimentary plot or lack thereof. The characters, locations, tools, and events all work very well, and the writing is good. While this book isn't as "truly brilliant" as all the rave reviews posted on the cover claim, it is still fun and promising start to Drake's new series.