Book 1 of the Darkshield series, 2015
by Kathe Todd
Young Adara strikes out for the wide world in search of revenge on the evil wizard whose minions murdered her parents as a child. Along the way she meets Ferdyn, an adventurer. Immediately, feelings of yearning ignite between these two.
Once the premise is established, the story slows to a leisurely pace. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In the greatest fantasy novel ever written, the evil wizard never appears.
This is a work of fantasy, with orcs and magic and such. In an attempt to create a pseudo-medieval world, the dialog should indicate that era. Phrases like “Just drink it slowly, or you may make yourself sick,” could evoke an earlier age without confusing the modern reader by changing it to, “Drink it slowly, lest you make yourself sick.” And the line, “I’m Mrs. Selden, but everyone calls me Nanny,” could be “I be Widow Selden, but all know me as Nanny.” Anachronistic words like “rehydrate” and “biology” made me cringe.
But that's a matter of style and Todd is consistent. That's the most important thing in any book.
Really, the writing is very good. The plot isn't bad at all. The storytelling isn't bad either but the pace is rather leisurely. Things do pick up late in the book, when Adara and Ferdyn sneak into the dark wizard's tower.
This book shows considerable improvement over Todd's earlier work. The language is more fluid and the story doesn't hit a full stop every five pages to throw in another sex scene.
But don't worry; there's sex. The hot kind.