Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
How much can one heart endure? When the undead enter Castia, its youth must put their dreams aside and fight. In the dark days that follow, destiny reveals her purpose…and what a humble girl must do to fulfill it.
Vespias Firstlight has been chosen to champion her world. This daughter of a simple hunter must place herself into the path of destruction that the Black Prince and his minions bring. For him, genocide is the only acceptable goal, but destiny has chosen Castia’s young Vespias to endure every hardship to stop him.
The darkness of this land covers the unbridled passions of Vespias as we live through her triumphs and tragedies. It is this darkness that shapes the way our heroine turns from her joy- filled youth into a young woman with all the scars that a cruel world can inflict. You’ll ask yourself again and again…how much can one heart endure?
The Last Ranger of Sarn by Ed Ireland is the first volume in a Fantasy series about the young huntress Vespias, her growing up and the pivotal role she is to play in a war against the forces of darkness.
Let’s begin with a look at the bread and butter of Fantasy stories: lore and world building. Now, the novel had me perplexed in that regard. The described world, cultures, histories and such seem rather classic High Fantasy with the author’s personal tweaks here and there. For example, you have a bunch (and I really mean a bunch!) of different countries and races living next to each other in interchanging periods of conflict and peace that ultimately are forced to unite against a great evil power that seeks to destroy them all. The author filled this world with several interesting races and cultures of his own design. He also gives us details about the different peoples’ histories as well as interactions with each other. So far, so good. The thing is, my main issue did not lie with what was presented but with how it was presented. It was less show and more tell. Whenever the name of a new place or race fell, a detailed description told mostly by an anonymous 3rd-person narrator would follow. While I appreciate the amount of thought the author put into his world, these sudden drops of knowledge often took me out of the main storyline. It felt like they did not really contribute to the progression of the plot at that point and were sometimes more of an overload of information.
All in all, the book contains a lot more narration than direct speech. This does not have to be a bad thing in general but here I really wished the characters would have been given the chance to speak or think out loud more often. Because the characters themselves seem like rather interesting people for the most part and I would have loved to get a better feeling for them through their own words. Furthermore, this style of narration made the progression of the plot seem somewhat rushed. Like the author wanted to pack a lot of things going on in there when perhaps it would have been better to just skip some events in favour of granting certain key moments more time to unfold.
Vespias herself is a strong female protagonist. We get to witness how she grows up amidst the loving care of her family and passes into adulthood. I admire her bravery and commitment when she decides to organize a militia and leave her home behind on her own accord to join the fight and protect her loved ones. She also has to come to terms with a lot of inner turmoil. While several of the characters surrounding her have their own strong points, I especially took a liking to Salaris and empathized with the struggle she is facing due to her sexuality.
There are very little scenes with sexual content featured in the book but I would not regard that as a flaw. The couple of sexy times that get explicitly told are short and delicate. Both m/f and f/f relationships are mentioned.
In conclusion, I was definitely not blown away by this novel but I find that it is not without potential. I really hope that the author continues to improve especially on his style of writing and presenting his story to the reader.
The cover by Storyteller Design supposedly showing an image of Vespias looks fine on its own but I am wondering why they depicted her with a sword in hand instead of her bow. It seems a bit out of character.
Sales Link: Amazon
ebook, 450 pages
Published July 18, 2016
by Snow Leopard Publishing
Edition Language: English