Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Death of Promises: The Half Orcs Book III

Book Three of the Half-Orcs brings us up to The Death of Promises. Written by David Dalglish, this volume brings a lot of the Paladins work into the Half-Orcs in a much fuller manner than previously.

Before I ramble on too much though, let me just point out that the cover featuring one of the two paladins of Ashur left alive, whose divine power comes not through his sword, but through his shield, is facing off against the magic-wielding half-orc and his unnamed flaming whip. It's a fantastic piece. The necromantic presence of the undead behind the half-orc, the clash of contrast of the warm colors off the whip against the cool colors of the shield. It's a great piece.

The cast of characters and the world building continue to grow.Quarrah Tun and his insane lover Tessanna, who it turns out is essentially an avatar of the Earth Goddess of this setting, decide the best way to move onto their next steps, is to steal an ancient tome and learn it's secrets.

That tome is being held in a church of the 'good' god of the setting, Ashur. So doing what any good necromancer would, Quarrah raises the dead of that god and attacks the church leading to some epic combats between one of the last paladins of Ashur and the necromancer, as depicted on the cover. The nice thing about the Paladin here, Jerico? Despite his holy power being unique in that it powers his shield, he does have a magical mace, 'Bone Breaker', which would make a great magic item in any fantasy RPG. (Personally, I've used something similar in 1st and 2nd Edition D&D just used a Sword of Sharpness rules but instead of cutting the limb off, it breaks it.)

The second half of the book takes place in the siege of the city of Veldaren. Here the 'good' half-orc, Harrauq and his wife, along with their mercenary comrades, are still dealing with the aftermath of losing those dear to them from the last volume and finding new friends. Among these friends is another paladin of Ashur whose 'friend', Mira,  is another avatar of the Earth Goddess.

Turns out these avatars of the Earth Goddess are only supposed to show up once every blue moon and there have never been two around at the same time and it's usually not a good sign if there are two around at a time. An imbalance of sorts eh?

The brothers come back together in an epic clash as all the horrors of the world, various beast men ranging from birds and wolves to orcs and undead, assault the city. This isn't some random assault. It's not some attack against the city merely for the sake of bloodlust. Rather, the city is built upon the entrance point of the two gods to the world.

That's a clever bit of world building that leads back into how young the setting itself is.

Part of the problem the series suffers is that there are so many 'unique' and special characters. Jerico and his unique shield of faith. The Half-Orcs themselves being half-orc and half-elf pulling in massive amounts of power from somewhere. Velixar the reborn face changing creature who rises again and again. The two avatars of the Earth Goddess. I could go on but that small list in and of itself should be sufficient to note that we're not dealing with small matters here.

By the end of the novel, things are not looking up as a new, more powerful antagonist is introduced. It's a good way to end the novel and set up for the next book with the various forces in the setting that are waging war getting larger and the stakes themselves getting larger.

If you like quick moving high fantasy with high-powered heroes and villains, The Half-Orcs should scratch that itch.