Title: The Last Grand Master (Champion of the Gods #1)
Author: Andrew Q. Gordon
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Genre(s): High Fantasy, Teen read
Page Count: 370 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
In a war that shook the earth, the six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, God of Evil. For three thousand years, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity and Neldin’s evil was nearly forgotten.
But then Meglar, wizard-king of Zargon, unleashes the dark magic of the underworld and creates an army of creatures to carry out his master’s will. One by one, the sovereign realms fall as a new war between the gods threatens to engulf Nendor.
Leading the opposition to Meglar is Grand Master Farrell. Young and untried, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.
Farrell is joined by Nerti, queen of the unicorns, and Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen as Farrell’s mate. As Farrell and his new allies make plans to counter Neldin’s evil, Meglar forces their hand when he invades a neighboring kingdom. Rushing to help their ally, Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Cut off from help, Farrell attempts an untried spell that will either turn the tide or cost him and Miceral their lives.
This was one of those stories that you don’t quite like, but you don’t want to give up on. Not that there is anything particularly wrong about it, but it is just not gripping. The plot is quite simple, but the backstory and context goes on and on. There is some action at the beginning and at the end but there is a large section of the book where time is devoted to the instigation and development of interpersonal dialogue and reflection. This certainly establishes the world building and is not boring, but on the other hand it does not keep you on the edge of your seat. Tension throughout is at a minimum. The lead character is quite unusual, as he exhibits both youthful behaviour, but is able to switch that off when called upon to act either as a wizard, a ruler or a lover. If this is a transitional characteristic and that he will grow into his maturity then you would expect some personal growth as this long book progresses, but that does not seem to be the case.
The narrator provides distinct characterisation for each of the roles regardless of sex and maintains them throughout. The use of regional British accents as national identifiers is an interesting choice. Unfortunately, although there are a number of races represented they appear as individuals from a dialogue perspective and as such the accent reflects the personality more than their origins.
This is a teen read. The central characters may be older than that but the language and behaviour at an emotional level is far from explicit. Cursing uses innocuous colloquialisms and sex is inferred. On the other hand the lead characters deal out death to the baddies without a qualm, but are devastated by personal loss. The relationship between the two leads is romantic but naïve, as it doesn’t really develop.
As noted above, this is a book without very much going on, so the pace is unhurried. This is also reflected through the narration where the time is spent to assure that the dialogue is clear.
The book ends at a natural breaking point; there is no cliffhanger or any explicit threads that require development. Nevertheless it is clear that this the first in a series of books and so the ending is left open.