Posts Tagged ‘Dwarves’

One of the things I like the most about fantasy and science fiction books are the different races which populate the different worlds in which the stories take place. There is something oddly reassuring about the thought that humans could be sharing this planet, or the universe, with other races, as the Terry Pratchett’s amazing Bromeliad Trilogy reflects. Except if those creatures happen to be Trollocs. (No, seriously, screw the Trollocs, we are not sharing anything with those guys). During my travels as a reader I have come to know and love different races which populate the Multiuniverse such as the Kenders, the dragons, the minotaurs and, of course, the Dwarves.

You may have noticed that it doesn’t matter how many races a book contains, the hero will usually be at least half-human. It has always struck me as a quite an optimistic view of our race, but most authors seem to have an enviable faith in humanity. So when I find a book which breaks free from the Human hero allowing other member of another race to take the position of the main character I usually become incredibly excited.

I found The Dwarves exactly one year ago on a library in London, where, using all my self-control I manage not to buy it (Believe me, it was like Frodo trying to resist the ring’s influence) because it probably wouldn’t have fitted on my luggage. Two weeks ago I came across it on Kindle store and, been unable to find a reason not to, I bought it and started reading it immediately.

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Strong Points: The secondary characters, the descriptions

Weak points: The main character, the story development

The Dwarves, written by Markus Heitz, tells us the story of Tungdil, a lonely dwarf raised by humans (of course, freaking humans) who’s never been able to meet any other member of his race. But when the King of the dwarves finds himself almost on his deathbed and discovers that his appointed successor plans to declare war to the elves, he will send his warriors to bring Tungdil to his kingdom, presenting him as a long lost heir. Now, everything depends on young Tungdil’s skill to play his role because if he fails, if the elves and the dwarves go to war, an ancient evil who has been waiting for its chance will attack and will destroy them all.

Even if The Dwarves as a whole was a rather uneventful book, it still had some very good qualities which made me continue reading, and one of those qualities was, undoubtedly, its secondary characters. While Tungdil is just a quite simple Cliché collection, his companions are interesting beings with some really curious backstories and with their own goals and objectives, making the reader feel closer to them than to the main character himself. They are all painted in different shades of gray, with very distinct personalities and driven not only by their desire for goodness, but also by their own aims, some of them altruistic, such as Andokai’s or Boendal’s and some of them selfish, such as Rodario’s or Boindil’s. Furthermore, all of them experience a transformation through the story which develops their individual personalities and their conscience as a group, resulting on the reader either loving them or hating them, but never being indifferent to this little, uneven group of unforgettable characters.

The descriptions are also powerful and manage to entrap the reader in a way few authors can. The scenery changes as their travel progresses, but Mr. Heitz manages to entrap us in every single one of them, really investing time in helping the reader to understand what the characters are seeing and what are they really feeling as their journey takes them to places they never dreamt to visit. The description of Ogre’s Death, in particular, is quite spectacular, with such a description and such amount of detail that the author really manages to make the reader understand the perfection of the dwarves’ masonry as the image appears vividly on our mind. The characters’ descriptions are also vivid a very different between them, making the chacarters not only unique because of their personality, but also because of their physical appearance. It is surprrising in a good way to find an autor nowadays who allows himself to stop and to provide the reader wth detailed descriptions of the events of the book and Mr. Heitz does that perfectly

Sadly, the book needs to rely on those two qualities to get the reader through the story, because the main character and the story development itself is one big cliché which doesn’t uphold any mystery at all. Tungdil can’t really develop during the novel simply because from the very beginning he is superficial, more a role (the orphan who wishes to meet his people) than a real “person” finding himself in that situation. He is also wise, a gifted warrior and quite a charming fellow, quickly overcoming his minor imperfections so by the middle of the book he is completely perfect. Tungdil doesn’t step out of his role as the “perfect, honorable, savior” during the whole novel. Sometimes the book tries to bring up his doubts about seeing himself as a leader, but by the next paragraph they are completely forgotten and they never become important enough as to define the character.

Let’s be honest, the only reason why the story develops is because the characters happen to be the luckiest guys on the planet, literally. The book is written for them to win, and that is obvious from the very beginning, as every minor difficulty they come along in their journey is basically solved by sheer luck: suddenly someone (be it an army, a magician, an ancient ghost or a companion they believed long gone) burst into the scene and makes everything right or they group discovers someone among them has a skill that can help them (without this skill having been hinted before, of course, and then being forgotten as soon as they use it). Furthermore, the story’s plot twists and surprise are quite unsurprising, as they can be seen a hundred pages before they occur, add up an uneven pace and events which feel random and by the end you get the feeling of a lacking story development.

As I said before, the book felt rather uneventful and, quite frankly, quite forgettable, without anything to put it apart from the other books except the nature of his main character. Even though is hasn’t been the amazing story I expected, I will continue reading the series, out of an honest desire for it to improve.

FINAL SCORE: 5/10

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