Dave Duncan – Faery Lands Forlorn

I’m a bit behind on my reviews as I’ve been reading more than spending time on my blog. Well, you know what is more important ;-) . Last week I finally received Faery Lands Forlorn by Dave Duncan (1991), which is book 2 of A Man Of His Word. Books 1, 3 and 4 I had also ordered via the web, but as I had gotten them from different places, this book took a long time to arrive. I had already started on book 1 over a month ago, expecting book 2 to arrive soon, but it took much longer. Now I can finally finish the series.

I will start of with a little introductory. Dave Duncan is probably no known name and if he is, his books are probably among the main mass of mainstream fantasy. I could only get second hand editions from the web and good quality ones were way too expensive, so I settled for decent quality ones. I usually aim to get new or very good quality, but in this case it was not important to me. Why? Simply said, I discovered this author because the sequel series to A Man Of His Word, named A Handful Of Men, got translated into Dutch. As Dutch Fantasy publishers are few, few titles escape attention. I sort of liked A Handful Of Men. Sure it was mainstream, but different and original enough to stand out. As I don’t like having an incomplete collection of a series, I decided to get the first series too. This was also pushed by my search for new books and not finding recent series that interested me. I’m a selective reader. I usually have a good feeling what I like and what I don’t and there is a lot of stuff I don’t have a good feeling to. That I was able to collect them all, I’m happy with, because this series does not seem to have been reprinted.

As I’m not going to review Book 1, as it’s been a while, I will first give a setup of the world and story. The world consists of a large continent with numerous islands. The center part of the continent is mainly inhabited by humans, although of non-impressing kind. The outer parts are inhabited by many different races from earthly fantasy lore, like elves, gnomes, trolls, faeries, djinns, fauns and more. The races mingle freely among each other, so that creates a lot of variation. Magic is obtained through words of power, the more you have, the more powerful you are. This is one of the main storylines of the series, as many try to obtain more of them. The second storyline is the romantic quest. One knows how this will probably end, but as usual it is the journey which counts. The book follows the stories of the two main characters of the romantic quest, so to say.

Telling anything more about the plot would be spoiling. These aren’t long books with an average of 330 pages. I can say that Duncan manages well to avoid cliches and it is hard to predict what will happen, which to me is always a big winner for any book. Faery Lands Forlorn is a bit slow at the startup. The book is already two thirds on the way when the real action starts. Before that the main characters are progressing slowly. It’s no boring read, but for such a short book it makes one feel how the author thinks we can make it to the end in time with this pace. The final third of the book gives an interesting insight to the world of the series and introduces a number of important players. In the end there is still a long road the go with only 2 books left.

A Man Of His Word, like its sequel, manages a level above mainstream with a few original ideas and the avoidance of boring cliches. It’s no complicated novel. The worldbuilding is somewhat minimal. The different characters are not flat, but not that complex either. Sufficient is the right word. It does not lack details, but no more is given than needed for the story. I think this is not the aim of books. The author wants to write an entertaining story with likeable characters where he sets up enough of the world so it works and is believable. I’m happy with that, as I don’t feel much need to know more.

Reviews of the next two books will follow soon.

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