“Champion’s Rising” by S. F. Claymore

Well, if you ever want a compendium of every type of magic creature that ever existed in literature, this book is it. Fairies, trolls, magicians, wizards, sorcerers, vampires, werewolves, magic swords, a dwarf, dragons, griffins, pegasi, mages with a whole range of psychic skills, demons, gods, and an army of ungodly creatures created especially for your pleasure. All superimposed on a full-scale continent-wide Medieval setting full of intrigue, royal match-making, and treachery.
If this book lacks anything, it isn’t epic scope or creativity.
What is could use is a little control. With all the plotlines, characters, and monsters circulating around, the reader finds it difficult to know which emotional line to follow, which character to empathize with at any given time. This shows up especially in the middle of a huge seige of the main city, when two groups that are on the same side mistakenly attack each other, and a lengthy fight ensues. Who are we supposed to be rooting for? The only emotion possible is impatience. “Come on, you fools, get this over with so we can fight the real enemy.”
The best part of the story is the main character, Crown Prince Snarmis, who is huge, strong, hansome, genial, and everything else a hero should be. He just isn’t very good at anything. Not bad enough to be a comic or a caricature. Just not hero-type good enough. He can fight with a sword, but not well enough, so he is always in trouble with his father, the king, because he isn’t coming up to standard. This plotline is the only one that we can cling to as we wander through the wonderful settings and conflicts that Claymore has created and described so beautifully.
There is plenty of action (literally the whole last quarter of the book is a battle), culminating in an 18-page marathon duel that goes on and on and never seems to go anywhere. Enough is enough, already!
Recommended for fans of epic fantasy, the more epic the better. I was given an advance review copy of the manuscript, so I can’t comment on the editing.
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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