Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shadow Chaser: The Chronicles of Siala by Alexey Pehov

I bought this book about a month ago in paperback for $3.40 from Amazon after reading the first book in the series, Shadow Prowler. It's not that the first book blew me away with its awesomeness or anything but with Amazon Prime I don't pay s&h and it gets here quick so why not.

M'eh.

I don't know if it's the translator or just the short clipped names but I had a hard time "getting into" the book. With the main character Shadow Harold, I can see it being a 'jab' at fantasy names by going with something more normal, but there are a lot of characters with three letter names like Eel, and Ell which make keeping track of some of them difficult. Others have names like For which is a pretty commonly used word in and of itself.

The mythology of the world has a nice difference in that elves are second cousins if you will to Orcs who are the oldest race in the setting. The author also uses dreams to provide the reader with more information.

The characters are also very 'player character' like in that for the most part, they don't come across as stupid but rather competent and use all their advantages when possible.

The author also doesn't have a problem killing characters or throwing them into terrible situations. Alexey Pehov does a good job in providing the characters additional hardships, like losing their special key that is required to get into the Ogre's grave, to which they must take it back.

In terms of gaming, there are a few things that resound here that hail from historic times as well as in popular culture about those times.

The Judgment of Sagra: In the Game of Thrones series, on at least two separate occasions, the 'truth' of a matter or charge is determined not through a court of laws, but rather through trial by combat. In the Chronicles of Siala, the Judgement of Sagra is that trial by combat. When accusing a group, the lot draws straws to determine who will fight the accuser. An interesting way to handle it. The other thing is that only 'knights' or nobility or warriors if you will, can draw lots because it is a warrior's code.

Destroyed Villages: One of the terrible things most published settings do is fail to show how dark and dangerous their settings are. Often there are very powerful creatures that just happen to wait for the players to show up and stop them from doing bad things. Here, as the companions are in the Borderlands, one of the villages they come across has been destroyed by an advanced scouting party of orcs. If you put towns and forts in areas where they should be sacked and raided, have them sacked and raided when the players aren't around. It provides the setting more feeling of movement, that things are happening when the characters aren't around.

Alexey Pehov's website can be found here for further information and details about the Chronicles of Siala which appears to already have two more books ready for reading. As my own library has continued to grow after buying this book, unless I spot them on sale, I'll probably hold off for now and work on some of my other material.

For those who've read his other books, any particular one you'd care to mention? Any other particular Russian authors that stand out and are easily available in English?