Posted on February 16, 2007 by Flames
Novel Written by Kevin J. Herbst
Prophecies, magic, and a powerful darkness come to life in the novel End of Heroes, written by an up and coming author. Although this is a fantasy novel, there are many elements that do not follow the mainstream cutouts you might find in your local bookstore hidden away on the shelf. First and foremost, it is strongly apparent that there is an intelligent author behind the planning of this book. Herbst has created a very, well-detailed setting with a complex wizard society and magical rules.
For those readers that enjoy the finer points, they will find their fair share of them within these pages. Simply, there is a lot of background information in the book—so much so that at times it is very hard to understand what is going on because there is a host of faces that make an appearance during the tale. Every character (and I do mean every) is named—from the thieves that show up for a few paragraphs before their demise to the guards on a watchtower that fall to their deaths a few pages later. The story’s point-of-view shifts with the events; no one group of characters is followed consistently throughout the plot. While some may enjoy the different perspectives, I felt that the constantly shifting point-of-view bogged down the novel’s pace and kept me at an emotional distance from the main group of characters, a small circle of new wizards traveling toward an experienced master of the dark.
According to the novel synopsis on the back of the book, Malthus Kiernan was intended to be the book’s main character. I found the description to be too much of that proverbial “tell,” for this book is simply about the systematic destruction of powerful forces by a wily and intelligent villain called the Darkener (who takes on several aliases to cover his tracks) while Malthus and his friends are meandering aimlessly about after they finish their initiation, that somehow end up on the path to meeting this bad guy by being in the right place at the right time. Malthus’ love interest is an elf named Aloria; their unrequited love for each other happens very quickly and seems rather anti-climactic as the novel continues.
I think for a first-time author this book is better than many of the works I have read and/or reviewed simply because yes, Herbst does know what he’s doing, mechanically, as a writer. Take the book’s beginning for example—the opening action scenes of Malthus’ trials are some of the best written in the book. I think that, if anything, the story suffers from verbosity, a condition that, truthfully, has distracted me from the story. Due to my own experiences, I couldn’t help but edit the work as I read it. But what does this mean for you, as a reader?
Well, I honestly believe that it depends upon how discerning your tastes are. The End of Heroes is an excellent concept; the world of Kalan’s fate rests in the hands of novices who sometimes have to rely on sheer, dumb luck simply because there is no one left to help them. This is the first novel in the story, so much of what is told here is important to the rest of the books. I fully expect that the second work’s pacing will change simply because the details are out in the open. As such, I recommend that if you pick up this book you read that knowing that this is a long and lengthy tale that offers you a fairly linear plot (which is a good thing, in my humble opinion) with an unsatisfying ending.
Overall, The End of Heroes is a decent first-in-a-trilogy novel for someone who enjoys a meatier kind of story with an intense setting.
Reviewer: Monica Valentinelli
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