Mel Odom,
The Quest for the Trilogy
(Tor, 2007)

Are you ready to read a good adventure-fantasy-mystery story about arrogant nearly-immortal bow-wielding elves, gruff but big-hearted axe-wielding dwarves, clever but short-lived and sometimes untrustworthy humans, crotchety but very powerful wizards (some good, some evil, some with pointy hats and beards), a supposedly-dead dragon that might not be quite as dead as everyone thought, some enchanted weapons, lots of ancient treachery causing long-standing feuds, and small beings called "dwellers" who wear no shoes but have a knack for unexpected heroics, narrow escapes and journal-writing? If you are, you've found exactly that, and much more. This is the fourth book in the "Rover" series, but do not let that dissuade you, as I enjoyed it greatly, despite not having (yet) read the first three.

This story actually started a thousand years earlier, when humans, elves and dwarves joined forces to oppose Lord Kharrion, an evil being bent upon world domination. If you are starting to think to yourself, "Oh, I don't need another retelling of The Lord of the Rings," don't worry, as that is not what this is, despite many communalities in the ingredients. This is a prime example of how a good author can take a familiar premise with many well-known and well-used ideas, and weave a very original tale. The combined army, a millennium ago, was defeated at the Battle of Fell's Keep, and there was treachery involved.

Using a complex format of storytelling, we start with Juhg, a dweller (hobbit-like being) who works in the Library in the Vault of All Known Knowledge. Juhg sets out to help people overcome their fear of books, even though books do tend to attract and enrage the goblinkin (think of orcs). Right at the outset, he is rescued from a brawl by a wizard named Craugh, who was a good friend of Juhg's mentor, the now-vanished Edgewick "Wick" Lamplighter. Craugh and a group of pirates manage to manipulate Juhg into going off on a quest for three journals, secretly written and hidden by Wick. Craugh is not totally forthcoming about why he wants to find Wick's missing journals, but the group grows to include a talking skink, a talking cat, a talking donkey, a thief who is not a thief and a dwarf who seeks to clear his family name.

The story is really mainly about Wick's not-quite-successful search for three magical weapons, but Juhg must find Wick's journals in order to complete that incomplete mission. The further that Juhg progresses toward finding and decoding the journals, the more enemies he encounters and the more his life is in danger.

Despite shifting back and forth between the stories of Wick and Juhg, this novel flows quickly and well. The characters (major and minor), settings, weapons and monsters are described thoroughly, helping the reader clearly envision the action.

Despite themes of ancient treachery, attempted murder, enormous monsters, complex intrigues and narrow escapes, the tone of the story ends up being somewhat lighter than Tolkien's Rings, reminding me more of R.A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale Trilogy. The story is definitely not as dark as George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice & Fire series, and the writing is not as complex or as detailed as Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy. It is clear that Odom loves the characters he has created here and their post-Apocalyptic (or post-Cataclysmic) world. The Quest for the Trilogy is one of those tales that makes the reader feel that he or she has found a new place to visit, where interesting people and places can be found. I, for one, want to go back, and read more "Rover" tales, to find out more about the adventures of Wick and Craugh.

review by
Chris McCallister

15 December 2007

what's new