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Matt-M-McElroy

Into the Reach Fiction Review

Posted on November 23, 2006 by Matt-M-McElroy


Available at DriveThruFantasy.com

Written by Alana Abbott
Book One of the Redemption Trilogy

In the land of Eranon, the Reach is a desolate place where people journey to forget who they are. Now, a menace rises from the wasteland, and he is hunting for someone. To keep the madman and his chaos behind the Reach, four adventurers with haunted pasts must rise to the challenge. But how can failed heroes bring hope to others when they doubt themselves?

Into the Reach brings a small group of “heroes” together through unlucky circumstances that are forced to work together against an evil necromancer and his undead minions. Each of this tale’s protagonists have lost someone dear to them in the recent past and are attempting to start new lives on the outskirts of the Reach (a Northeastern corner of the continent, well-known for its blasted wasteland and mixed population of outcasts and outlaws). Some of them meet along the way to their new home and finish the journey together.

The characters are forced out of their new home when the village is attacked by a horde of the undead. The local law is intelligent enough to recognize an organized raid on the town and the timing of the characters’ arrival. The characters have no choice but to obey local law and are forced out on a quest to deal with the problem. This pivotal moment is where the real story begins; the only drawback is that it took the characters the entire first half of the book to find their true purpose. Along the way they run into a few savage beasts and meet a couple of interesting denizens of the Reach; these encounters strengthen their teamwork and camaraderie. Throughout the journey the characters begin to learn a bit more about themselves and slowly begin to accept each other as trusted companions. Thus the characters eventually become a true “adventuring party” as many fans of fantasy stories are familiar with. The tone and pacing of the story change to reflect the characters moods, moving things along rather quickly at this point.

One of the more interesting parts of the book is the amount of space given to the characters’ primary antagonist—the outcast Mordyss, a necromancer banished to the Reach long ago—for this part of the trilogy. Several times the book explores his twisted motivations and broken memories. Mordyss is one of the most interesting characters in the book and having these bits of insight add a great deal of depth to the villan.

Most of the characters in the story are very entertaining and add to the overall setting. Even the very minor townsfolk the characters encounter have a depth of personality that enhances the small details of the scenes they are a part of. However, a select few of the secondary characters detract from the story in other ways. The dwarf magician the characters encounter is almost “too” good at everything and knows “too” much. As a result, he takes the spotlight away from the characters and detracts from the mystery.

Into the Reach is only the first part of a longer story because the characters are just beginning their quest. This book sets the reader up for some grand adventures that will happen later on by introducing the cast, showing off a bit of the setting and teasing us with a bit of action before leaving us with a cliffhanger.

The book contains a map of the Eranon continent and a “close-up” of the Reach. Although the second map seems a bit wasteful to me since very little new information can be gleaned from the new image. Throughout the book are some full page illustrations by Lindsay Archer. They do add to the tale with interpretations of the characters at various parts of their adventure.

For folks playing Chronicles of Ramlar Ms. Abbott has added “official” game stats of the main characters on the White Silver Publishing website. These can fairly easily be adapted to other game systems as well.

As much as this story is set in the Chronicles of Ramlar it does stand on its own (as much as Book One of a trilogy can). You do not need to know anything about the Ramlar game to enjoy the tale. Into the Reach is an entertaining fantasy adventure and worth checking out if you get the chance.

Reviewer: Matt M McElroy

Look for Chronicles of Ramlar eBooks at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.

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