“It is part of a good man to do great and noble deeds, though he risk everything.” – Plutarch
Author Richard Dawes’ book, Sword of the Quest, is the latest installment in the ‘Wolf Slayer Saga’ series. Valka the Wolf Slayer, the sword wielding hero of the story, has already established his credentials as a fierce fighter. He carries the bloodline of the Dragon Lords, an ancient warrior class whose life purpose has been divinely ordained. In this story he undergoes many challenging tests that further enhance the myth surrounding his character. And an encounter with a mystical sorcerer takes him one step closer to attaining ultimate power and knowledge.
Sword of the Quest is an adventure filled with many fearsome battle scenes. It also has mellow interludes where Valka reveals his humane side. Although it is not a lengthy book, the plotting of the story does give it a big book feel. There are many important sub-plots leading to the big denouement at the end. Rather than introduce the hero with a thrilling action piece, the book begins with Valka being pushed into a challenging situation where he is not in control. Unable to resolve the problem with his sword, he must rely on strength of character and intelligence to survive. But with a hero like Valka, sword fighting, decapitations and general action are never far behind, and they provide a wonderful thrill.
Since Valka’s character has already been established in previous books, Sword of the Quest doesn’t waste time in repeating it. But the reader is still able to follow the story and the setting should they choose this book to get into the series. And compared to previous sagas, they will sense a subtle change in Valka’s character. He still follows the Warrior's Way but he also realizes that he can’t always dictate the course of events. He is more aware of what he can do and more importantly what he cannot do. He is not merely a gifted swordsman, but also an intelligent, perceptive thinker.
Underlying Richard Dawes' stories are questions about life and meaning from the perspectives of philosophy and metaphysics. These elements aren’t only to fulfill the fantasy aspect of the story. They serve as a platform to address important issues. The sagas are commercial novels but there is an intent to discuss esoteric subjects. There are wonderful dialogue sequences in the book that the reader will surely want to highlight in order to re-read later.
I found nothing wrong with the book. It is commercial fiction with a lot of action, a hunk of a hero, beautiful women – and even woman warriors - and fast pacing. It is a compelling read. And it doesn’t demand that you to set your brain aside to enjoy the book. Sword of the Quest is entertaining and also gives you something to think about. What more could you ask for from a book?
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Paperback: 162 pages
Publisher: Melange Books (June 12, 2016)