*Warning: small spoilers herein*
This book has been on my “to be read” pile for a very long time. I read it mostly to do a vampire cleanse. And, because it was the *only* book on my TBR pile that garnered ONLY positive reviews from my friends. Also, because in my digital sample, Rek fascinated me.
To me, this was a sad, sad book. Not because it was depressing and many people died – Hey, its war, people die. But, rather because there was no villain. No bad guy. No sum of all evil. There was the side about which we read and the side that was attacking them. The warchief for the opposing side, to all intents and purposes, was a decent guy, a good warchief and was just expanding his territory. No different from Hannibal or Alexander. He was no Hitler. He treated his people well – or at least as well as could be expected, and respected his opponents. Therefore, there was no glee, no joy, no real celebration when the war finally stopped – there was just . . . relief. Relief that the deaths on *both* sides (at least for this confrontation) were over.
One thing really bothered me. It was a very small thing. But it nagged at my subconscious. At one point, before Rek, Virae and the thirty arrived at Dros Delnoch, the thirty discovered that traitors had poisoned a well. They were shown not to be able to reach our heroes in order to warn them. We had one paragraph where someone drank out of this well and died. That was it. No big AHA! moment where our reluctant heroes determined that OH NO! the traitors have poisoned our well. No masses of people dying. Just one little very brief paragraph. Seemed to me it should have been bigger than that. See, told ya, it was a very small thing. Sometimes that is all it takes in a story to leave that little niggly hmmmm in the back of your mind.
While I *did* actually love the ending, I think the best part of the entire story is the overwhelming theme (OMG my English teacher mother would be so *proud* of me for recognizing an overwhelming theme . . .) that one man *can* make a difference. Whether that man be Druss or Rek or Serbitar or Orrin or Gilad or Bregan or even, yes, Ulric. These men all did what they felt was right, regardless of the consequences to themselves. They defended all that they loved to the best of their abilities, no matter how big or how small those abilities might be. Most of these guys were not born into greatness, they earned it – not by being the best there was or ever would be, but simply by being the best *they* could be. This, in itself, led others to also strive for ‘bestness.’
It is stories such as this that give me strength and confidence to press forward in the face of adversity, no matter how big or how small. For that reason, I give this one 4 stars.