So, at last, after a very long year of waiting, the 3rd book of the Chosen of Nendawen has come out.
And it was well worth the wait. What is a drag is it is over. Or is it? I have a feeling author Mark Sehestedt will be visiting this rich world and its awesome cast of characters, (those who survived, anyways), hopefully in the near future.
Cry of the Ghostwolf, as per the past 2 books in this terrific trilogy, picks up right where Sehestedt left off in book 2. Hweilan has gone through the myriad of rituals to become the mythical Hand of the Hunter, and her rendezvous with her dark destiny with the most creepy and wicked body snatching alien creature named Jagen Ghen is at hand.
I won't give spoilers here. I'd never do that. Hate it when reviewers do that. Suffice it to say, that after constantly trying different stories that pique my interest in this Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms vast store of books, Mark Sehestedt thus far has become my favorite. Maybe its because I grew up in Texas and New Mexico, and his world and characters have those textures of Native Americans mixed with Stone Age, with fantasy elements thrown in. Others don't have that texture. None that I've read, leastways.
I've been reading epic fantasy for over 35 years. From the most recent authors of Abercromie to past authors like Zelazny, A to Z, and Sehestedt, for me, shines a new bright light with his style of writing in this genre. Not only is his novels action-packed, (which I am drawn to in books), but he also manages to balance that action with fantastic world-building and rich characterization. If there is only one gripe I have with this talented author, it is the sometime lack of character description. Especially when it comes to the hobgoblins.
Now, I am not a gamer. Maybe these books are not big in description because the authors feel the gamers already know what a hobgoblin looks like. And since I've read my fair share of fantasy, I too know what they look like, I suppose. Big pointed ears? Snake-like eyes? Lizard-like skin and hands and feet? I think they are supposed to be very different looking than humans. But Sehestedt, in all 3 of his books in this trilogy, never describes that aspect of them. I had to Google pics of hobgoblins just to make sure the image I formed in my reading mind was correct. Don't get me wrong, Sehestedt is mostly a master at descriptions of landscapes, and does give overall good descriptions of the large cast of characters, even the new ones he introduces with each book. And they are ALL interesting, too! Not an easy feat.
In my humble opinion, this trilogy was totally terrific. Unlike most trilogies, which have weak 2nd book fillers, or bad, rushed endings, this one satisfied me. Sure there could have been more closure, as the previous reviewer stated, but I trust this remarkable writer. I think he gave enough hints that this will not be the final book in this world. (Or worlds, really!) And I can't friggin' wait! This last book left me wanting more.
I think the difference between Mark Sehestedt and the other writers in the Forgotten Realms books is the mixed bag of genres that I feel he throws in his books. Like I mentioned earlier, I feel like I am reading a more primal, primitive, and much more early Native American legend and lore, mixed with horror and fantasy, than just your typical fantasy. I like that Sehestedt doesn't mix politics with his fantasy. I get enough politics on TV and radio, I don't like it much in my escapism reading. And you won't get it here!
I also like the dark fantasy feeling here, too. Sehestedt's world and magic usage is not pretty. In fact, his body-snatching alien baazuled characters are downright as creepy and scary as anything Stephen King has ever written, trust me. I like the twists and turns this latest book unfolded for me. I wasn't sure just how he was going to end it. A lot of authors telegraph their story, and you pretty much know how it is going to end. Not Sehestedt. He kept me on my toes.
I like the solid artwork on these particular books. In fact, the publishers of these books should clap themselves on the back. Mark's books are designed differently than the Forgotten Realms books, the look and feel of Jaime Jones's artwork fits Sehestedt's tone and look of his world and its environs. It was what attracted my attention with The Fall of Highwatch, with its cover art going vertically instead of the typical way all the others do it. And then the story sucked me in right away, and never let go. And also, none of the three books is ever slow and boring, making the reader wait for something to happen. Nothing is wasted.
Thanks Mark Sehestedt for a terrific and refreshing new type of fantasy reading.