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Reviews of 'Renegade Wizards'

Renegade Wizards

by Lucien Soulban
Tracy Hickman Presents The Anvil of Time, Volume 3

Reviews of 'Renegade Wizards'

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Reviewer: BeezerMN

Rating: Stars

Renegade Wizards by Lucien Soulban is the third in a series of standalone novels under the banner The Anvil of Time. The first book is Sellsword by Cam Banks and the second book is The Survivors by Dan Willis. The fourth, scheduled to be released in June, 2009, is titled The Forest King by Paul B. Thompson. This is Mr. Soulban's second novel in the Dragonlance universe, the first being Alien Sea. I have been a big fan of these stand alone novels that Wizards of the Coast has been issuing for Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Eberron. It gives the reader a good snapshot at what the world is like, without requiring them to read copious amounts of other novels. It's nice to be able to recommend single novels for people to get a feel of the world, so, I for one, hope they keep this trend up. Here are my thoughts about this novel.

The plot of this book centers around a plot against the Towers of High sorcery from a rival group of renegade magic users. The rivals are slowly stealing tomes artifacts, and magic users to further their cause. The Towers of High Sorcery are seeking to put a stop to it and further their control over magic use and those who use it. To do this they enlist the help of a mage from each order (white, red, and black). There are also a few sub plots as well such as; different reasons why each character is chosen by their respective order, characters doubting 'things' about their lives, political maneuvering, and a little history into a time that is rarely written about. While there are several things in his novel that entertained me, and I was curious about, overall the plot seemed a little uneven to me. There are moments when it is well paced, but there are also moments where the pacing becomes near non-existent. This makes it, at times, difficult to really get into a groove while reading. There are also a couple of elements included in this book that didn't really seem to add to the overall plot line and were merely filler. With that said, being a fan of the Dragonlance world for the past twenty years, there were several things in this novel that were very interesting to me. I just wish it would have had a better balance throughout instead of the spotty nature it has.

The characters in this book could very well be a love them or hate them group. Let me give you an analogy to explain what I mean. In the music industry there are some songs that no one will cover because they are considered sacred. I think that's the case with at least one character in this book. In this book we get to see a much younger version of Par-Salian and Ladonna. At first I was excited about this proposition, but the more I read the more I felt that some things should have been left alone. The mystery behind some characters is part of their appeal. The dialogue, mannerisms, etc of Par-Salian did not mesh with how I remember him acting from the Chronicles. I understand characters develop over time, but it just didn't feel right reading about him like this. Other characters such as Tythonnia, Dumas, Thoma, and Berthal were well written. I actually enjoyed reading about them more than Par-Salian and Ladonna. There are some very strong character development moments for Tythonnia as well. I really did enjoy most of the characters, I just wish those two big name characters were not included in this book.

A couple criticisms about this novel:

1 – As I mentioned above the inclusion of a couple characters really took away some of the mystique for me. Partly because as a reader you know how things are going to turn out in regards to them, but also because there is a uniqueness about those characters that should have been left alone. I am not placing all the blame on Mr. Soulban though, because may very well have been told to use them.

2 – The unevenness of the plot and flow of the novel. While there are times when Mr. Soulban's prose shines, there are also times when it seems to sputter. This stunts the ability to really get the reader engaged in the story.

Some things I liked about this novel:

1 – There are several instances of very thought provoking dialogue and themes. I was not expecting those to be present in this book so it was a nice surprise. They don't come across as heavy-handed or preachy, but more of a thought provoking idea to consider.

2 – I liked the small tidbits of information about characters from past books such as the couple mentions of Justarius. I just wish all those mentions of other characters would have remained tidbits. That is just my opinion though.

Overall I thought this was a good book, but it missed being great for me. There are certainly some good things about this novel, but there are also some things that lessened my enjoyment of it a bit too. For fans of the Dragonlance universe I would rank this book up there are pretty close to a must read, if for no better reason than to learn about a time that Is very rarely talked about. It certainly adds quite a bit of lore to the Dragonlance universe. Aside from DL fans though, I am not sure if this is a good book to start with, just because of all the mentions of things that would be lost on people. I enjoyed Alien Sea by Mr. Soulban, and enjoyed most of this book as well, so I am looking forward to seeing what he writes next. Dragonlance fans, do yourself a favor and go out and pick this one up.

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