Book Review: Empire of Saviours / Author: A J Dalton / Publisher: Gollancz / Release Date: May 17th
A schoolboy defends himself against bullies, and instead awakens his magical powers, forcing him to flee the city instead. A strange young girl is placed in an impossible dilemma and has to run for her life. A young warrior goes on a quest of self-discovery; all these are the opening notes of Empire of Saviours, a fun fantasy romp which features of an ensemble cast of quirky adventurers thrust into a sequence of unlikely and highly dangerous events.
Empire of Saviours is one of those quirky fantasy novels where the world competes with the characters for your attention. It is cast in a rather classic mould; the forces of chaos compete with the forces of order to control the fates of everyone within. Magic is feared and oppressive, paladin like warriors roam the land looking to prevent the growth of the supernatural, whilst those affected by such power resist and rebel. Author A.J. Dalton has filled this novel with interesting ideas and clever concepts, and uses them to keep the reader fascinated and interested throughout.
Those of us who grew up reading quest-driven, trope filled fantasy adventures will be on familiar ground here; we have the crazy old codger who happens to be a source of (occasional) wisdom, the potentially powerful yet naïve young boy, the inexperienced but brave warrior and a creature with a mysterious back-story. None of this makes for a poor tale; all these heroes are interesting and fun, if a little familiar. This is a charming fantasy adventure, and though it doesn’t break any new ground, it doesn’t have to, as the characters are compelling enough to carry the story forward.
Those who aren’t into lengthy religious debates (even fantasy ones) are advised to avoid this; however, fantasy fans who like strange gods, stranger sects and mad preachers will find this a lot of fun. It does suffer from being the first in a trilogy, and I do wish that the conclusion was more satisfying. However, there’s a lot of fun to be had here and it’ll make a welcome addition to a summer holiday reading list for fans of epic quests.