The Hickory Staff (The Eldarn Sequence book 1) by Robert Scott and Jay Gordon (book review).

June 26, 2013 | By | Reply More

When Steven Taylor opens an old safe deposit box he knows he might lose his job, but it turns out that should have been the least of his worries. As he and his flatmate Mark fall through a portal to Eldarn, a world with twin moons hanging in the sky, they realise that nothing will be the same again. Facing rebels, magic, demon beasts and an evil beyond anything they could have imagined, the pair must join forces with a group of locals in order to find a way home. They might not make it, but they have to try and in doing so they may just give Eldarn a chance at freedom.

TheHickoryStaff

‘The Hickory Staff’ is the first in ‘The Eldarn Sequence’ by Robert Scott and Jay Gordon. It is a hefty doorstop of a book, coming in at 577 pages of over-sized paperback. I love to get lost in a good fantasy novel but I am always wary of starting such a large book in case it turns out to be a slog. However, in this case, I need not have worried because I was about to step into a fantastic new world filled with magic and wonder.

The story primarily follows two flatmates from Idaho Springs, Colorado as they travel through a portal to another world. They’re my favourite kind of fantasy heroes – normal guys who find themselves in extraordinary situations and deal with it as best they can. They’re pretty solid characters and it’s easy to connect with them as they face their fears, fall in love and come to terms with their new situation.

There are a lot of other characters and if I were to pick fault with this book it might be that, at times, there are just too many. In a way it is endearing that the authors spent time on minor characters who appeared only for a few pages before disappearing again, but as a reader it sometimes got a little confusing because there were so many characters on the go at once.

This is compounded by the fact that for much of the book we jump between different strands of story so that there are several groups to keep track of as the story progresses. Towards the beginning of the book, I thought this might get annoying, but actually it all worked really well. It was good to see what was happening outside the focus of our main band of travelers and it added to the storytelling and the world-building. The plot moves on at a nice pace, with plenty of time devoted to both action and character development. Yes, I think it is a little predictable at times but what fantasy isn’t? That didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it at all.

It is a rather brilliant world that Scott and Gordon have built, fully fleshed out with all the little details that I like to see in my fantasy novels. We have history, politics, food and drink, local customs and cultures that combine to make it a very believable world. The links between the two worlds are also nicely written and link everything back to our reality. I find something really compelling about fantasy novels that include the humdrum everyday things of our life, it serves as a good contrast to the magical and mystical parts.

After the first couple of chapters, where a lot of scene setting was taking place, I became completely engrossed in ‘The Hickory Staff’. It’s a great fantasy of the epic variety and I’m really looking forward to seeing where book two in the series, ‘Lessek’s Key’ takes us. Definitely worth the wrist ache of dealing with such a large book!

Vinca Russell

(pub: Gollancz. 577 page enlarged paperback. Price: £14.99 (UK). ISBN: 0-575-07607-0)
check out websites: www.orionbooks.co.uk and www.jameslovegrove.com

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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