This was an author request, I had read and enjoyed Akiri: The Scepter of Xarbaal, so I was excited to give this one a go. I listened to this via audiobook (thanks for the credit, Brian) so please forgive any spelling errors.
In the opening of the book, Drake is living in the slums of the world known as the Providences, working as a ‘hawker’, (which is basically a bounty hunter) and spending much of his time in a seedy bar when he’s not working.
He takes jobs from less than reputable people, and his latest client doesn’t want to pay up and decides it would be easier to kill Drake. Since the MC isn’t just a standard hawker, and is actually an ex-Captain of the Guard to the King, he’s able to fend for himself pretty well. The assassination attempt goes poorly, and Drake ends up walking away from it.
The King, who has exiled Drake, asks for his help when his son is kidnapped by a group of rebels. It seems as though despite exiling Drake, he and the King have a decent relationship. The King apologizes for having to exile him, and swears he believes he’s innocent, and gets a little choked up about the whole thing. Drake believes if he can bring back Prince Salazar unharmed, or at least aid the King in a significant way by finding the band of rebels, he will be able to return to Troi – the last and greatest city on Earth.
The problem is, even if Drake manages to find Salazar, he may not want to come back with him. His father accused him of treason, and although he rescinded the accusation, the prince doesn’t know that yet. He would believe that his rescuer is bringing him to his death.
Drake has to team up with another hawker who he despises to try and find Salazar, and it’s a bloody and interesting journey. To make matters worse, someone from within is trying to sabatoge the mission, planting bombs and other things around Drake trying to ensure he dies before he completes the rescue.
Final Score: 11.75/15
Drake is pretty bitter about being an outcast forced to live in the Provincial Lands, a place where people die from hunger and are more or less the dregs of society. He’s pretty good at what he does and doesn’t seem to have any moral qualms about handing people over for a bounty, even if it means their deaths.
He has a long lost love that he’s had to leave behind when he was banished to the Provincial lands, and he’s reacquainted when he gets to Troi.
He seems to be fairly loyal to the King, despite the fact that he banished him. He was also friends with the prince who’s gone missing, so he not only wants to find him to possibly re-gain his place in Troi, but also because he was a friend.
I wasn’t sure if I liked him at first, but the more I got to know him the more I came around to him.
Final Score: 10.25/15
Exodus is the rebel group who’s been behind most of the civil unrest over the last couple decades. They are a secretive group that’s managed to stay outside the Kings grasp for a while, and likely has people stationed in the higher positions of the government.
Lots of different kinds of magic, flames, mind reading, healing, etc. It’s all fairly mysterious except for the fact you know it uses mana.
Guards have a vex crystals that helps them channel mana which prevents exhaustion and boosts some of their abilities. Mages without this have to use their entire bodies to channel mana, and it can be very exhausting. Having the crystal to channel the mana is extremely painful, but you never get tired.
The world is sort of post-apocalyptic, something happened long ago that nearly wiped out humanity. Troi is the last city left, and it’s also dual-layered, with the Lower City literally holding up the Upper City.
There’s a lot of modern tech, cars, phones tv and all of that. Drakes favorite weapon is his P37, and never goes anywhere without it.
The society is rather hierarchal, with peoples stations at birth having a big impact on how they can progress through society. A “level 6” is a lower station at birth, and are given poor jobs like sewer cleaning. The people living in Troi are rather removed from the rest of humanity that’s struggling along. They live in luxury, while most people are starving and dying by the hundreds.
Final Score: 11.25/15
I felt like I wanted a little more from the prose, but it wasn’t something that was glaring – there were just a few overused words and sometimes there was a lack of description to help me visualize what was going on or what the character was experiencing. However, it read quickly and the prose pushed the story along well.
Final Score: 9.5/15
I found the pacing to be smooth and consistent, there weren’t any lulls or ‘filler’ material. There was a nice pace of action through the book that was coupled with narrative and dialogue so it wasn’t moving at breakneck speed from one fight to the next. There were pretty high stakes towards the end of the book, and there was more than enough tension to keep my attention from beginning to end.
Final Score: 13/15
I really liked the world building, the magic was interesting and I found the dual city concept coupled with the society to be a nice mix.
Final Score: 12/15
I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to like this because I wasn’t connecting so much with the character, I’ve seen a lot of grumpy bounty hunters who are unhappy with their lives. However, once the main plot started to unfurl I became more and more interested. By halfway through I was speeding along through it. The audiobook was also well narrated and kept my attention, I made it through fairly quickly.
Final Score: 7.5/10
- Bounty Hunter main character
- Single pov
- Post-apocalyptic setting
- Futuristic setting
- Lots of magic with mages
- Guns in Fantasy
- Fast paced with lots of action
Final Score: 75.25/100
Thank you for taking the time. I’m really glad you liked it. The Vale is a departure from my usual fantasy fare – an experiment of sorts. The goal was basically to take the character types and plot devices of RPG’s (Final fantasy, Tales Of) and novelize them into an original world. It was lots of fun create; more than I thought it would be. I’m thrilled that the enjoyment I had writing this story translates to the reader. As always, a fantastic, well-considered review.