“The Hand of Andulain” by Aaron Mahnke

I’ve been on a trip (to the amazing PyCon in Santa Clara, CA) for the past week. It’s the first time I’ve travelled with my Kindle, instead of having to pack a whole bunch of heavy books, and it’s pretty nice! It’s also nice to have access to a whole bunch of fantasy (free Kindle ebooks!) – it’s my favourite genre, and I don’t usually have many unread fantasy books.

The Hand of Andulain is a pretty standard fantasy. In the grand tradition of Frodo Baggins, Rand al’Thor and Luke Skywalker (Star Wars is pretty much fantasy), Bran is a young man from a quiet, pastoral village. He has reached twenty summers, and is looking forward to tending to the family farm, although he occasionally dreams of adventure. But then he saves an elf Eki messenger who is being chased by some Broken (think Orcs or Trollocs) carrying a powerful magical item, and therefore has to run away from home and family, accompanied by his best friend and his wise old mentor (who is more than he seems.) Along the way he meets a pretty girl, fights some bad guys that are hunting him, and learns that he is the only one with the power to destroy the Dark Lord. Like I said, pretty standard.

This is the first book of a series, so it’s a bit clunky. There’s a lot of setting up and introduction to the world. The world is also fairly standard, but pretty well described. I would like to know more about the magic system and the history of the world. The characters are also quite archetypical, although I did like Alae more than most of the other characters – she seems pretty interesting for a servant girl.

Some of the explanations were repeated quite a bit, which annoyed me. The characters constantly realised things about 50 pages after I realised it, and then proceeded to deliver a speech about how exactly it worked. It’s almost like the author wanted to make triple sure that we understood how something was significant to the plot.

Another annoying thing was that there were quite a few typos. For instance, there was “they road their horses” instead of “they rode their horses.”

Overall, a pretty light, predictable and fun read. I’ll probably pick up the next book at some point when it’s out.

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