An Epic Fantasy Series Review
The Story. This series is a mix of Huckleberry Finn meets Lord of the Rings meets the Mists of Avalon. You have 3 young men who take a really long trip on a river and wind up with more than they bargained for. You have myths and legends of powerful sorcerers who come back to life and seek world domination. In addition you have a misty hidden land full of ghosts and ancient magics. But that is not all! There are also two feuding kingdoms, royal intrigue, familial betrayal, a secret order of Knights, immortals and dark wandering gypsies with magic of their own.
In short you have a good old-fashioned fantasy and to top it off, written in beautiful, lyrical prose.
My Thoughts. This series was told in a way that I found interesting once I got used to it. Instead of focusing on individual characters, the story revolved mainly around groups. This is not to say that there were no scenes with one or two characters but the majority of the series focuses on different groups, each with different goals. This method of storytelling allowed for a tale that was multilayered without getting too confusing. It also made it possible to have a huge cast of characters without losing track of who was doing what.
I also found it interesting that while the group method stopped me from getting emotionally involved with the characters, it gave me insights I might not have experienced otherwise. People react differently in a group as opposed to a more intimate one on one setting or in their "natural" surroundings. The quiet loner may find herself leading a group because it depends on her tracking skills. A member of a royal family who normally leads by privilege of birth may find himself a lowly follower because he possesses no skills at all. It was a great way to challenge the characters then see how they handle unfamiliar situations. It was fun to watch.
The Problems. Since nothing in life is perfect there were some things that bothered me. The first one had nothing to do with the series but interfered with my enjoyment of it nonetheless. This was the first series I have reviewed from my Kindle, but not the first I've read. The formatting sadly was horrible. If I hadn't known better, I would have sworn it was written by a novice. But Sean Russell is far from that. No, the fault had to have been on the publisher, the software used or some other inexplicable reason. Regardless it was distracting, annoying and I really wish I had read it in print form.
The other problem I had was keeping the mythology straight. The mythological back story is told in bits and pieces from several different sources and I often found myself forgetting who had done what in the distant past. Granted, I cannot swear this was not completely my fault for not paying close enough attention. Either way I advise the reader pay extra special attention to the mythology or they too will find themselves flipping back through not only pages, but previous books to figure out present events.
Conclusion. Completely ignoring the formatting and trusting my occasional confusion to my own inattention to important details, I loved this series. The huge cast of characters and the layers upon layers of story were handled well by focusing most of the tale on individual groups. And the descriptive prose was a sheer joy to read.
Unfortunately I can't quite bring myself to give this series a 5, which I normally reserve for books that I plan to reread, over and over again. The only way I will reread this is if I put my hands on a print version. I hope I do, considering how hard I worked at figuring out the mythology, it may be even more enjoyable a second time around. However, as it stands now, I am giving it a 4. Pretty good, I liked it, but had some minor piddling little issues.
If this series sounds like something you might enjoy I suggest reading the individual reviews for more information. Spoiler free of course!
|Author: Sean Russell
Genre: Epic Fantasy Series
Content: High Fantasy, Mythology
Series: The Swan's War
Publisher: Harper Torch
Source: Kindle - Personal Copies
|UK Cover Art: David Wyatt (Shown Above)|
US Cover Art: Stephen Hickman (Shown on Book Reviews)
Read an Interview with Sean Russell
Author's Web Presence (very little)
Available in Kindle
See individual reviews for more information.
More Great Epic Fantasy
Epic Fantasy Series Review of The Swan's War Trilogy By Sean Russell - Reviewed by Mulluane - on September 9, 2013 - Rating: