Saturday, June 5, 2010
Gold and Glory by Brian Libby
Last year, one of my best surprises was Storm Approaching, Brian Libby’s fantasy debut that introduced the world to Andiriel, orphan school-girl who becomes a government agent and a mercenary leader in a pre-gunpowder fantasy environment full of historical touches. Hot on the heels of that release is the second volume of the saga, Gold and Glory.
Following from the events of Storm Approaching, Gold and Glory picks up after a winter of training for the Pelicans mercenary regiment. Andiriel, along with her ever present sand fox, continues on as an atypical and very effective leader, joining an army of mercenaries led by General Demantius. After a couple of battles that Andiriel takes in stride, a unique offer from an odd source presents itself. Sarenia, enemy of the Empire, wants to hire the Pelicans, along with an army of other mercenaries, to fight in the Sarenian Succession War currently taking place. Andiriel accepts, and sets off on a whirlwind adventure in a strange, foreign environment.
Once again, Libby has presented us with a very fun adventure, although this one is in a very different vein than Storm Approaching. While Storm Approaching was a sort of coming-of-age story, Gold and Glory is the action epic, the heroic fantasy saga of the series so far. Filled with battles, Gold and Glory never lacks for action and adventure. Libby works very well at creating characters that are very memorable, both major and minor. The action is very exciting, and feels very real, yet also retains an interesting strategic aspect sadly absent from most action fantasies of the day, which follow the hack-and-slash method instead (not that that is bad, but the variety and uniqueness is nice).
The only thing that I felt detracted from the story at all was the fact that I never felt the Pelicans were in any real danger. Andiriel seemed to always be on top, and it seemed a little too easy or convenient at times. While that can be an issue, I never felt that bothered by it, as the crux of the story, despite all of the action, never was the action itself, but Andiriel and the other characters, and how they grow and develop. What Libby is writing feels different than most modern fantasy (and not just because of the lack of certain tropes), and it is a welcome and refreshing addition to any fantasy reader’s library. If you enjoy fantasy, action, history, or a good story with characters you can become deeply attached to, give Libby a try.