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When I reviewed "Wizard's Bane", Book One of the Sojourn Chronicles, I described Dale the main protagonist and the accumulation of his band of followers:
"Dale is a man in trouble, stranded, lost and seriously out of place - transported through a galactic space warp and marooned on Earth by means and enemies unknown! He is worried to discover that his sophisticated, technologically advanced tools and weaponry, normally capable of modifying and controlling the people and the environment around him are now undependable, inconsistent and frequently out of commission entirely. But the tools that he does have and his charismatic force of personality are sufficient to gather around him a ragtag collection of misfits that seem to have also lost their place in the world - a thief bent on reform and self-improvement, an "animal-whisperer" who dropped out of the local wizard's college, the spoiled son of a baron, a demon held in thrall by a sorcerer's spell who can't seem to stay out of trouble and the runaway pacifist son of a cutthroat murderer."
While I was thrilled with ongoing quality of Crystalwizard's writing in the second book in the series, "Villenspell: City of Wizards", I did criticize her for allowing the plot to stall:
"After a near encounter in the forest world of faerie, Dale and his fellowship reach Villenspell, the city of wizards, where they intend to enlist magical aid to help them and their recalcitrant technology survive an assault on the world by Gorgs. But, at this point, the story's plot stalls and Crystalwizard allows her characters to meander almost aimlessly from one encounter to another in the city."
Unfortunately, "Wizards and Wanderers" has completely mired in the mud on the road to Yaybar where, presumably, Dale and his cohorts are still destined for (but no closer to) their encounter with destiny and the evil Gorg who, at the behest of a maniacal wizard left over from the Wizard's War thousands of years earlier, would overrun the earth.
I will say this ... in the closing chapters, Crystalwizard injected a superb twist into the plot which injected new life and sparkle into her fantasy series and prompted this reader into a commitment to continue with the series. Like the best of thrillers, a reader is now left wondering whose side everyone is on and all the characters are looking over their shoulders waiting for their friends (or enemies) to launch a surprise attack!
Crystalwizard has no problem with dialogue. Some of her scenery or magical interludes are described with almost breathtaking focus and beauty. I also enjoyed some genuinely gripping philosophical debates that occurred from time to time throughout the story ... but that sparkle and excitement that is necessary to drive a plot focused fantasy epic forward was missing for at least the equivalent of an entire book! That's pretty thin ice for an author to walk on for such an extended period of time.
But I am looking forward to "Army of Misfits", the next novel in the series. I want to see where that little twist takes me.
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