James Clemens, I have found, is a better writer than James Rollins. Why does that matter when this book is by Clemens? Because both are pen names of Jim Czajkowski. I mentioned in another review, the one for a Rollins latest book that I liked Rollins non-series books better than his Sigma series. The first five Rollins books were non-series, last five were Sigma books (at the time of writing this review, 2008). I took that to mean that Rollins felt freer and less restrained when he wrote a non-series book. I was wrong. All of Clemens books have been series books, though the last two out under the name are a different second series (seven total books, with one series of five books, and a second series of two books). And, so far, all of Clemens books that I have read have been, or at least seemed to be at a higher level of writing ability. And the first Clemens book, and maybe the second, was published before the first Rollins book was released.
Strong story, strong characters, interesting books. The second book found me starting to skip ahead like I normally do with a Rollins book, but I still found this book to be a stronger, more interesting book than the first. Which is somewhat rare for me. Most times I find that fantasy series degrade as they advance, with some exceptions. Granted, I’ve only read two of this five book series, and so we will have to see (added to original review: I read the rest of the series, great series, complete in and of itself with a satisfying concluding book).
In terms of the book itself: One of my problems with fantasy is that it just felt like fantasy. Fantastic worlds with little substance, just wisps of fog on a winter’s day. They just did not feel real enough to me. Well this series seems to inhabit a real world. The lines aren’t clear cut, it isn’t true evil against true good. It isn’t “the world will end tomorrow unless the hero kills/defeats the really really evil guy”, for the entire world isn’t even involved in this series. Just a section of it.
Somewhere along the way the dwarfs, mining people, found a rather strong type of stone in the mines. A lot of power in this stone. A transformed dwarf or something from within the stone itself sprang forth to become the evil one, who lead his armies to another land and conquered it. That was more than 500 years before this story takes place. And his armies are made up of real people, not clay, as you can find in other series.
But that is neither here nor there, this wasn’t supposed to be a review or information on the book, or series, but a quick little “wow, Clemens is better than Rollins, same person, ooh” tidbit in the first paragraph.