Author: F. T. McKinstry
Series: Chronicles of Ealiron #1
Genre: Fantasy/ Romance/ Assassin
Rating: 3.5 stars
Blurb: (via Goodreads)
Lorth of Ostarin is a hunter of men. Lawless, solitary and obscure, he is trained in magic and its inherent order. This uneasy combination of pitilessness and structure has made him the highest paid assassin in the land. It is also about to throw his life into chaos.
The trouble begins when Lorth returns home from a long absence to find his old haunts compromised by a cruel, upstart warlord who has invaded the realm and pushed it to the brink of war. Lorth’s cavalier attempt to elude a political sandpit quickly deteriorates into a series of skirmishes that he negotiates with a sword and a reckless penchant for using magic against the rules. He flees with a price on his head; but no angry warlords, wizards, foreign aristocrats or spooky apparitions can rattle him from the dark stability of his profession—until he is captured and condemned to execution by a formidable wizard who serves the old powers.
In his quest to prove his innocence and loyalty to the realm, Lorth discovers a profound sense of identity in his internal confluence of war and wizardry. But his quest turns bloody when love for a priestess and a will to avenge his homeland drives him to infiltrate an enemy occupation bent on domination and a blatant disregard for the forces of magic. This brings him to his greatest test, where he must surrender to the darkness of his nature to become a hunter unlike anything he has ever known.
I read this book on the plane ride from here to Texas. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a 5+ hour flight and a trip I hate making. I am not a plane person. Regardless, I had several books with me to keep me occupied on the flight, as well as waiting in airports. Hunter’s Rede was one of them.
To be honest, my first impression of the book wasn’t great. The beginning of the book was extremely slow. There was such an overload of information being thrown at you that it started to just blend together. There wasn’t any dialogue (other than a stray line here or there) for quite a few pages in, I’m going to estimate around twenty to forty, but it seemed like more. When dialogue did come in it was few and far between… with lots of descriptive fillers. There was a lot of description at the beginning of the book as well. So many places, and uniforms, and people were described that I honestly was imagining blobs in the form of faces. It was too much information too fast and it really slowed down the story. If it hadn’t been a book that I was reading for an author I would have just cut my losses and stopped reading there.
Saying that, the book did start to pick up a third of the way through. The main character, Lorth, (an assassin and basically a magician) finds his place within a new kingdom after he comes home to find his hometown to be taken by foreigners and the man who raised him is dead. Life isn’t easy. He has a lot against him and a lot of people aren’t particularly fond of him. In fact, there are a bunch of people demanding his head. Luckily for him, the priestess (their leader), is in love with him.
I just want to make a comment about how the romantic aspect of this story was. I found it incredibly abrupt and fast. He was sick, he slowly gets better, he is lusting after her, he is better and gets cleaned up, she sees him cleaned up and BAM! Sexy scene. I was sitting there like, “What just happened?” Now, it is entirely possible that I missed subtle clues ahead of time, and it is also possible that my bias is based on the fact that I like romances to play out the sexual tension before anything major happens, so I am not going to penalize the book for this area of critique.
Having said that, the romance between the priestess and Lorth helps drive the story further. I loved the tension between Lorth and the Priestess’s son (who is half god and Lorth’s age). I loved the relationships between ALL the characters. I felt that this was the book’s strongest aspect. All the relationships (no matter how small and seeming insignificant) were incredibly realistic and engaging. I lived for the dialogue because, once the dialogue started, it was great and showed so much of Lorth’s character as well as complimenting all the established relationships he had with other people.
Character development was well done. Lorth completely changes, in a good way, throughout the novel. Actually, it’s not so much that he changes, but that he finds out who he really is. His act of mercy in the end of the book truly showed the extent of his growth and his kindness as a human being. It wasn’t only Lorth that changed though, all of the characters that played front and center roles changed with him, accepting him and what he brought into their lives. Development was definitely the second best part of the novel.
Lastly, I want to address the plot. The plot wasn’t bad, in fact, it was quite good. I just felt it was distracted. As more information poured in from the author to the reader, the plot sometimes took a back seat. I understand the difficulties of trying to get all the fantastical information in so the reader knows what is what in a completely different world, but the act of giving the information needed a little bit more finesse and subtlety. Once again, I want to stress that the plot, while distracted, was really interesting and engaging. I didn’t feel like there were any scenes that were completely unnecessary and it was very fluid and appealing. The fight scenes in particular were quite exciting to read.
Overall, there was a lot of excellent aspects of this novel, but its slow start and the tendency for information to be dumped on the reader was what ultimately brought it down rating wise. However, if you like an Arthurian feel to your books, I would definitely say that this one had it! I would recommend it for the patient reader.