Thursday, September 7, 2017

Kirby Crow - The Pedlar and the Bandit King

Scarlet of Lysia is an honest peddler, a young merchant traveling the wild, undefended roads to support his aging parents. Liall, called the Wolf of Omara, is the handsome, world-weary chieftain of a tribe of bandits blocking a mountain road that Scarlet needs to cross. When Liall jokingly demands a carnal toll for the privilege, Scarlet refuses and an inventive battle of wills ensues, with disastrous results. Scarlet is convinced that Liall is a worthless, immoral rogue, but when the hostile countryside explodes into violence and Liall unexpectedly fights to save the lives of Scarlet's family, Scarlet is forced to admit that the Wolf is not the worst ally he could have, but what price will proud Scarlet ultimately have to pay for Liall's friendship? 

Comment: I got this book years ago but as it happens with many, it got left behind too. Trying to get some long standing books out of the pile, I added this one to my monthly list, to see if I can start reading the things I used to be so dedicated to at some point. My tastes have evolved but I still like to see if what caught my eye years ago still stands the passage of time.

In this book we have the story of Scarlet, a young man whose occupation is a pedlar and how, in the return of one of his travels, he finds his home as welcoming as ever despite his strange need to roam and not be at the same place all the time. When Scarlet decides to travel again, he is told a bandit is keeping vigil of a certain road and those who need to cross pay a little token but Scarlet clearly thinks this isn't fair and tries to go on his own. Meeting resistance but being attracted to the bandit, whose name seems to be Wolf, Scarlet tries again and again, without success, to go over.
At one point Scarlet gives up and goes somewhere else but when he returns he finds his life and village in an unrecognizable way and his dreams, along with his life, are completely changed forever...

When I got this book it was mostly because the blurb seemed interesting and some people whose opinions I trusted liked it a lot. Nowadays, the story probably wouldn't be a priority in my reading wishes but I can say it has both enough emotional content and fantasy to have been a likable story for me.

One thing that is very obvious is the notion this is a first book in a series. The conclusion can be sen as hopeful but sincerely, it just felt as a step towards something, which can be good if one wants a sort of epic series or annoying if one prefers the idea of closure.
I have mixed feelings about it but right now the notion of going through more stories to reach a satisfying conclusion feels too much to handle because I wasn't wowed with the whole plot.

The plot itself is interesting, well structured and complex enough. In the beginning it did seem a bit too much as I had some trouble getting into the flow of the story and many things seemed too weird. As one reads on, things start to get easier to follow and understand. Still, in terms of writing, this wasn't always the most developed story and often I thought that the reader needs to infer many things. I guess I could say some situations were too subtle overall.

The emotional content was quite good I think. There are some situations which I think were well explored, especially when it comes to Scarlet's own thoughts and life...still I can't help playing devil's advocate and I could also say that some emotional scenes were there just for that, to enhance feelings and not because they actually were needed. In fact, when I think about the most emotional scene, despite its intensity, I also imagine how handy and convenient it was for how the plot evolved at a later point in the story.

The main characters, Scarlet and Liall, are obviously meant to be a team, a romantic pair but in this novel we only see a kiss and a admission of feelings but not very obvious or any declarations. I guess this will come in the next installments. It's not that I mind it, but the glimpses we have that can make us imagine things going progressing that way were few and I can't really say if they were enough to make me want to keep reading. As a whole, though, each character was interesting and vibrant and, of course, full of secrets which will be part of the future novels, Liall in particular.

All things considered, this was an ok read, full of interesting details and situations, a well enough developed world building and society, lots of promise but not as engaging as I would have liked. At least not to the point of making me want to run and read the rest right now.
Grade: 6/10

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