Title: The Wanderer (Chronicles of the Riftlands #1)
Author: Rowan McAllister
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Genre(s): High Fantasy
Page Count: 200 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
After centuries of traveling the continent of Kita and fighting the extradimensional monsters known as Riftspawn, mage Lyuc is tired and ready to back away from the concerns of humanity.
But the world isn’t done with him yet.
While traveling with a merchant caravan, Lyuc encounters Yan, an Unnamed, the lowest caste in society. Though Yan has nothing but his determination and spirit, he reminds Lyuc what passion and desire feel like. While wild magic, a snarky, shapeshifting, genderfluid companion, and the plots of men and monsters seem determined to keep Lyuc from laying down his burden, only Yan’s inimitable spirit tempts him to hang on for another lifetime or so.
All Yan wants is to earn the sponsorship of a guild so he can rise above his station, claim a place in society, and build the family he never had.
After hundreds of years of self-imposed penance, all Lyuc wants is Yan.
If they can survive prejudice, bandits, mercenaries, monsters, and nature itself, they might both get their wish… and maybe even their happily ever after.
The writing style for this book is approachable and the story draws the reader in. The story provides an interesting mix of characters with a positive dynamic. There are unpleasant characters but these are kept to a minimum and where they are introduced it helps to drive the story forward. Characterisation is strong, each of the players has unique attributes that add to the flow of the plot. Whilst this is true, there are gaps in the reader’s understanding and knowledge, but it is assumed that these will be resolved in later books as the characters come into their own. The world building is similarly interesting and whilst it doesn’t offer anything that is particularly unique, it does enrich the reading experience.
As noted there is an interesting mix of characters. The central three individuals are as different as, I suppose, it is possible to get: an ancient wizard, an outcast youth and a shape-changer from another dimension. Whilst it is inherent to the plot that they are drawn to one another, it is in this that the story lacks some credibility, particularly in terms of the intimacy between the youth and the wizard. It is intimated that the youth has in the past used his favours to survive and believes that sex is probably his only gifts through which he can show his gratitude. This is understandable and more could have been made about the transition from this worldview to true affection. However, there is no real change in personality for the youth, he is just a little too nice. The age difference is not a real issue, particularly as there seems to be a plotline associated with age. The sex is pretty standard but is interesting in that it does put forward that age is not an issue and that erotic feelings do not necessarily wither with age.
There is a good steady pace throughout with plotlines that are not always predictable. A single thread is followed which makes the story easy to understand. Similarly, it is not awash with names and places and as such, the reader can develop familiarity with a core set of characters.
The story ends on a somewhat positive note. There is no cliffhanger but there are plotlines that are left with clear room for development. Similarly, there are characters and associated actions that require some closure. On reflection the whole book feels like a prelude to something much bigger and that this story acts as a set of building blocks. It is to be hoped that this is the case as the tale has clear potential that makes the reader look forward to what is to come.