Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: Gold and Glory

Gold and Glory, book two of the Mercenaries series by Brian Libby, picks up pretty much right where Storm Approaching left off. Andiriel, aka Anashla, has turned the pitiful Red Rats mercenary group into the Pelicans and they've had their first victory of sorts.

The book proceeds to chronicle the next year of the Pelicans' victories under Anashla as they become a close-knit group and gain more fame. Some merc groups they defeat they end up later working with in other action.

After a few successful battles, Anashla and several other merc groups accept a contract that takes them far away from their home lands and into the desert lands of Sarenia to help install a new king. Those plans quickly change, and they're forced to help to place a different usurper on the thrown: one that has his eyes set on Anashala's home Empire.

While Gold and Glory is the second book in the series, it does a good job of touching here and there on events of the previous novel to remind or tell the reader of what happened. I found the repeated, lengthy descriptions of the battles tedious to get through - but I understand their purpose: to show the reader Andiriel's natural tactical prowess and unusual ability to lead and inspire her followers. The interaction between the characters and their growth over the year was much more entertaining than most of the battle descriptions. The novel ends with a big naval battle that sets up the events for the next book in the series. My only major concern with both books in this series so far is that Andiriel is too perfect, she seemingly can do no wrong and easily overcomes all obstacles thrown in her path. She's been built up, it'd be nice to see her fail a bit - or at least not be so perfect - to make her more human.

The Mercenaries series is not typical fantasy. It's more fantasy/military fiction. There's very little magic present, no elves or dwarves or prophecies or rings or walls. There's a single animal character that is very special and adds some light-heartedness to her scenes. I'd almost describe it as a realistic fantasy setting.

I don't usually give ratings here (though Goodreads forces me to choose a starred rating there). I gave Gold and Glory a 2 out of 5 at Goodreads, which they say means "It was okay" (which to me is more of a 3 out of 5). Gold and Glory was okay. It wasn't as good as Storm Approaching, but serves it's purpose as a transition book showing the growth of the characters in preparation for what's to come.

This is a self-published series. The writing-style and editing within the book itself is as good as any from a big-name publisher. The mark of a good series for me is that it makes me want to know what happens next. Do I keep reading the series? Or can I put this series to rest?

I want to know what happens next. I'll give Gold and Glory 3 Stars out of 5. It was okay, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it.

The author provided my review copy; the entire series is available at Amazon.

Also? I think I'll use a line from the book on my wife whenever she's about to play Guild Wars: "Good luck and good loot!"

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