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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Runescape - Betrayal at Falador

By T S Church
3.5 Stars
Teen to Adult

This book is based on Runescape, which is a multi-person role playing game (mmorpg) online that my children were introduced to by other children. I created a character myself just to see and understand better what my children were doing online and ended up enjoying the game myself. You don't have to play the game to enjoy the book but I found that it made understanding the fantasy world this story is set in a lot easier.

The story begins in the city of Falador the headquarters for the white knights. Kara-Meir mysteriously arrives there in the first chapter and is discovered by Theodore, a squire of the white knights. They are the first of the group of friends that become the heroes of the story. They are joined by Castimir a young wizard, who was a boyhood friend of Theodore, Doric, a tough dwarf, an old man called the Alchemist and Gar'rth, a mysterious youth. They are pitted against the evil Sulla, Lord of the Kinshra bent on destroying the white knights and building his own empire, Jerrod, who is a werewolf and a mysterious traitor hidden amoung the white knights themselves.

First off I think the story is first rate and it is a worthy read. A word of warning though, the first four or five chapters are a slog. When my son bought the book I started reading it and put it down after the first couple of chapters. My son did the same thing. My daughter was more persistent than either of us and told us that she thought it was a good book. She did agree that it was difficult to stay with it at the beginning. It's important for an author to grab the reader's attention and keep them turning the page. I can't put a finger precisely where the issue is but it isn't just me. I feel disconnected from the story and the characters until I get further into the book. Once I was finally into the story, it became difficult to put down. I'm deducting a whole star because of the beginning. I would encourage readers not to give up though. It is worth ploughing forward.

I'm not a great fan of fantasy, although if it is well written, I will enjoy it and recommend it. I do recommend this book.

I have a couple other minor criticisms that account for the other half star I deducted. I notice picky little things that don't make sense. One is a plot hole as we writers call it. Theodore sustains a stab wound to his side in battle at one point in the story. It's bad enough for something to be made of it at the time. It never gets mentioned again. I think he must have spontaneously healed because he isn't hampered in any immediate adventures.

The other picky point is more of a logic issue in my mind. A great deal is made of Kara-Meir's mysterious origins. There is speculation that she might be the daughter of Justrain a former knight who spied on the Kinshra and vanished. Her leadership and daring is important to the white knights and she is a heroine when the war is over. When the traitor reveals himself, he confirms the fact that she is indeed the daughter of that knight and this information is not passed on to her. It's a simple oversight that could have made the ending more satisfying.

This is T.S.Church's first novel. It's a good book and I am tempted to hunt down and read the sequel.