Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review: "Van Raighan's Last Stand" by R.J. Davnall



This review is for episodes one through four of R.J. Davnall’s “The Second Realm” stories, which are contained in the volume titled “Van Raighan’s Last Stand.” It can be found here on Amazon U.S. and here on Amazon U.K.

It’s been many years since I’ve read a fantasy book, but I’ve been trying to expand the genres I read. I ran across Davnall’s blog, enjoyed his writing there, and decided to give his stories a read.

The story is set some seventy years after the “RealmCrash,” where, presumably, the First and Second Realms somehow collided, causing the death of most of Earth’s inhabitants (if indeed the book takes place on Earth). Pre-RealmCrash cities are in ruins but a form of government still exists. Story conflict takes place between inhabitants of each Realm, with those of the Second Realm being more powerful than those of the First.

Davnall plops the reader right down into the story, without a prelude, which I had mixed feelings about at first. It was difficult to follow the plot at times because I didn’t know what terms like “Gift Giver” and “Clearseeing” meant until I’d read most of the first story. Later I decided it was the right thing to do as it allows the plot to flow naturally. You’re fed the back story a little at a time instead of all at once, which shows restraint by the author and good story-telling ability.

The scenes where the Clearseeing is done are fantastic. You’re really taken into the mind of the Clearseer, Rel, and are led to feel what he’s feeling and see what he’s seeing. I really enjoyed the final, forth story; very exciting.

There’s a bit too much text spent inside Rel’s head for my liking, what he’s thinking and feeling, but I’m an action kind of reader: I want something to happen! And he’s a bit too temperamental for me, too, prone to emotional outbursts and pouting.

All-in-all, a superb fantasy story! The ending is a cliffhanger, making me look forward to the next installment. Highly recommended.