Saturday, June 04, 2005

Fantasy Book Review: Voyage Of The Fox Rider

Written by Dennis L. McKiernan, this fantasy book is one of many set in his created world of Mithgar series. This particular tale takes place mostly on the high seas - hence the "Voyage" in the title. The Fox Riders are exactly that - riders of foxes, little mythical people, hidden ones, human like in form but very small - Ummm, small enough to ride on foxes. Oh, and they are immortal, can create shadows hide in and shoot bows with deadly poison that none can duplicate, etc. . . .

Starting to sound all very "fantasy novel" standard fair? Well, this book is no exception. Throw in a good mage, a bad mage, a seer, an elf captain sailing a legendary ship, fighting dwarves, trolls, vile orc-like creatures, people that live in the sea. . . . you get the picture. Overall this book was not hard or complicated reading and fairly enjoyable, more so if you have read the previous Mithgar novels making this one more journey to an already familiar place - this novel paints a detail on the larger canvas of his Mithgar works, though it can stand alone without having ever read any of the previous novels.

Now for some quibbles and bits. One of the main characters, a fox rider named Jinnarin, and another main character, the good mage Alamar, have what I can only describe as forced, unbelievable arguments most of the way through the book. I know you are supposed to suspend your disbelief and live the world you are reading, but when two characters on stage are arguing for the sake of having some character conflict, it gets tired fast and detracts from the story. I see no point to it except to have conflict for conflict’s sake. Otherwise the tale itself, though I felt the pacing was off a little more than it was on, is pretty solid, enjoyable and you get swept along on the journey to its climactic world changing end.

But do not be fooled. This is no Lord Of The Rings. But it is a lighter satisfying tale of adventure and no surprise to the seasoned Fantasy reader. If you are like me (scary thought, no?), you will want to start the Mithgar tales at the beginning if you are going to read McKiernan at all. With that in mind read the Iron Tower trilogy first, then the Silver Call dualogy, then Dragondoom, then The Eye Of The Hunter, before this work.

So do I recommend it? Hmmm. Tough call. If you are familiar with fantasy and want a fairly quick read with no real surprises, go for it. If not, I would suggest you give this a pass.

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