Thursday, May 31, 2018

Song by Jesse Teller

    I read Song by Jesse Teller twice because I needed time to appreciate the book. It is an excellent fantasy novel which chronicles the adventures of Rayph Ivoryfist. Well, sort of. Rayph Ivoryfist is not the typical wet behind the ears farmboy or grizzled mercenary in these kind of stories. He is an archmage and in many respects, THE archmage of his home kingdom. Unfortunately, Rayph does not suffer fools gladly and this has gotten him trouble with the present king of his nations.

    As with all hereditary monarchs, eventually you run into one who is grossly unqualified for their position and Rayph has retired from being the kingdom's protector until the man is dead. Unfortunately, this allows a massive breakout at the magical prison where Rayph has collected the worst people he's ever fought. So, Rayph has to go out and try to deal with them even though he's got no backup from the public. He does, however, have the backup of his old friends who have since gone on to retire. Yes, Rayph needs to get the band back together. Oh wait, no, that's KINGS OF THE WYLD.

    I like the writing style of Jesse Teller even as it's sometimes a bit frustrating as he dumps you in the middle of the story without stopping to give you much in the way of exposition. You have to figure out who, what, when, where, and how purely by character's interactions. This is better than the alternative but confusing in places. Certainly, I would have appreciated just a wee bit more exposition to help me understand what was going on.

    My favorite story in the book is certainly the story of Manhunter Konnon, who has a daughter dying of what is probably cancer but something they don't really have the knowledge to deal (unless you're Rayph). Konnon is obsessed with saving his daughter and will do just about anything to make sure she survives. His story has the most poignancy and the fact it is running against a clock as well as the fact most people believe it's best to just let her die is helpful.

    I like the depiction of magic in The Manhunters novels as it is different from the more typical D&D version in books. It is powerful and altering so death is not something that is difficult to defeat. Indeed, many wizards swiftly become immortal and need to be locked away versus execution. It justifies the existence of Rayph's magical prison and means the escape is much more dangerous than it might have initially appeared.

    In conclusion, this is a fairly solid piece of high fantasy that could have used a bit more explanation as to what is going on. I enjoyed the humanizing conflict Konnon brought to the story as well as the central conflict between Rayph and the king. You can fight against evil archwizards but stupidity is another matter entirely.


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