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Book one of the Destroyer series by Michael-Scott Earle

Book Review: Destroyer

Kaiyer has been sleeping for many hundreds of years. But now he is awake. Why? Because someone believes he is the O’Baarni. Someone believes that Kaiyer is the destroyer of the Ancients. Because the threat of the Ancients has arisen again, and the humans look to past successes for their future gains. But Kaiyer has only a patchy memory, and even though he has clear talent, it is not clear whether it will be enough. And indeed, if Kaiyer is anything, he is uncontrollable. As the memories return and as the threat draws in, Kaiyer uncovers more of what he was. But even amongst friends there are enemies, and amongst enemies there are lost loves. Nothing is clear except one thing: the war has only just begun.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  This is a great opening gambit by an exciting new author.  It is a story of war and love (or actually, sex), so it has strong foundations.  And set in a rich fantasy world with evil elves, complex histories, and great characters, there is lots to enjoy.  There were some aspects I was a touch less keen on, but they didn’t detract from the core of the book.

Set in a medieval fantasy world, this story focuses on Kaiyer.  Woken from a deep sleep by a group who hope that he is in fact the O’Baarni, a legendary warrior who defeated the armies of the Ancients (who are in fact elves), this group hope that he can rid the world of a resurgent Ancient army.  But is he really the O’Baarni?  As his memory returns, so do his talents, but can he overcome this new threat?

I thought that this was a really interesting idea.  The use of elves is common in fantasy, but here they are proper bastards who have actually enslaved the human race.  Nice.  And they’re great characters too.  They are elves without even having to think too hard about it.  They just feel like elves.

We also have some great lead characters, and not necessarily just our protagonist – in fact, I still can’t actually decide if I like Kaiyer or not.  Greykin is a great character, developing nicely as the story goes on, and Nadea makes for a great love interest.  In fact, the “love dynamics” are great fun to read in themselves.  Nicely done.

Then there is the world.  It largely parodies a “regular” medieval fantasy world, not making strides to be hugely different.  But that’s not a problem.  This book isn’t about complex geography after all!  And indeed, the world is well thought out, unique to its purpose, and has enough depth to keep you engaged.  I might grumble a little bit that in the end, the ultimate “threat-thread” was (at least in part) an enemy who were until the end not explored, but that is a small point.  Overall this is a complex world that is presented to the reader in a pleasing way.

And a core basis for this story is the “dual” narrative we have (it’s actually a three-way narrative, but I’ll come onto that later).  The dual story of “past and present” Kaiyer is worked really well, and the sporadic exposure to the past (finding out in convenient bits) is setup excellently.  In fact, Kaiyer’s past does sound very interesting, and though we see a lot of it, I want to read more!  But I’m sure further details are hidden in the later books for those who read on.

So, overall this is a great book that I enjoyed reading.  But was there anything that appealed less?  Well, there were a few things that I think it’s worth mentioning.

I mentioned that this was about war and sex.  But is there actually too much sex?  Our protagonist is a bit obsessed with sex, and though there are only actually two sex scenes (I think), it felt like it was littered throughout – mainly because Kaiyer was always thinking about it.  Now I can appreciate that having been locked away for such a long time one might become a bit obsessed, but for my taste it seemed a bit “much” in places.

The multi first-person angle is a bit strange for me, too.  As mentioned above, I liked past and present Kaiyer, but the addition of Paug didn’t make sense to me.  He’s not a strong enough character to hold his own weight, and he felt more like a convenient pair of eyes – we might have been better with Nadea for instance.  And multi first-person is just a bit jarring.  I don’t think I’ve seen it before.  In third-person this would have been fine, but in first?

Then there’s Kaiyer.  Now, this is a good story overall, and I would be keen to read on, but I do wonder whether perhaps Kaiyer is just a bit too … invincible.  I never really doubted that he would succeed.  I’m sure there are greater challenges ahead, but it does mean that any dangerous tension with respect Kaiyer is a bit absent.  Sexual tension there is lots of!  But threatening tension?  Not so much.

This also made the fight scenes a bit mechanical.  They are clever for sure, but it felt a touch text-book rather than prose.

But nonetheless, this is a great introduction to a really interesting concept, and I look forward to reading on.  And indeed, this is a really well written book too.  I don’t recall seeing anything that stood out as unprofessional, and it all seemed pretty tight as a piece of work.  The language was easy to follow and dialogue seemed to flow pretty well, so all in all, it was a pretty easy read.  All in all, a great success.