Another Strong Offering – 3.5 Stars
Andy Peloquin once again shows that he has the chops to be a successful fantasy writer. Its time a bigger publisher see his work and distribute it to a larger audience. There was much to enjoy in the second offering and the areas that contributed to a reduced rating could simply be chalked up to personal preference.
Having been faced with the truth of his origins and in an attempt to flee his immediate past and an uncertain future, the Hunter takes to the road. On his travels he encounters enemies both internal and external and finds himself fighting for his life with uncharacteristic weakness. While his external foes threaten to destroy his body, his internal demon threatens to destroy who the hunter believes himself to be.
Too Much, Too Soon
In many series, I have noted a trend in character and plot development. The second book tends to be similar to the first. It establishes strengths and weaknesses by leading the reader to familiar territory. In the third book and beyond, the best series change the status quo and challenge the reader. This is by no mean a “rule” but what it does do is allow the reader to gain comfort with the strengths and weaknesses of the character. My issue with the second book in this series is that the Hunter is rendered essentially powerless. He is forced to survive and fight in manner quite different from the first book. This really isn’t a criticism of the book more than a personal preference. It felt that the main character changed on me before I got the chance to really get to know him. I would have enjoyed more of the Hunter from the first book to reorient myself.
Plot vs. Character
Again, we are in the territory of personal preference. Anyone who has ever read my reviews knows that I have a significant preference for the character novel. Despite the fact I felt it was a novel too soon, this installment is essentially focused on the character of the Hunter. We learn more about his motivations, his history and his fears. Not everyone will enjoy this aspect. In this instance the Hunter spends the majority of the novel inside of his own head fighting an internal struggle. There were times that the personal “back and forth” with his demon/self became tiresome but overall resulted in a great picture of the character.
What stood out in reading this installment was the author’s ability to maintain a plot while focusing so extensively on the character. I enjoy a great character novel and if its good enough, I don’t care about plot. As the majority of this novel was within the mind of a single character, it would have fallen short if the plot was ignored. The author did a good job of carrying a plot in a character novel and he did so without writing a 1500 page book. From my experience with similar type novels, this is an accomplishment.
The tone of this second installment is notably darker than the first novel and, in my opinion, better lives up to its billing as “Dark Fantasy”. Don’t let the status of an Indie published novel deter you from reading this series. It is polished, well written and nicely edited. As I previously stated, I hope that a bigger publishing house eventually gives the author a shot. The Hunter is a character that many people could be discussing in a few years.