If, like me, you are a fan of Dungeons and Dragons style 'quest' novels you'll be used to the idea of the 'quest party'. You know the kind of thing I mean - a collection of heroes, each with their own individual skills, i.e. a Mage, a Healer, a Warrior, a Rogue, a Ranger. The thing is, each story seems to start with a fully formed party all ready for action. You may get a bit of origin story but, to be fair, nobody ever really asks the questions, how do you become a renowned Mage, Warrior or Ranger, how do you get yourself started on the path to becoming a questing hero.
Until now that is. The Black River Chronicles tells the story of four aspiring heroes, Areinelimus Ironheart Thundertree (Wizard), Hule Tremick (Fighter), Tia Locke (Rogue) and Durren Flintrand (Ranger) as they try to make their way through The Black River Academy for Swordcraft and Spellcraft (a Hogwarts for the Questing world is probably the best comparison),
At the Academy all pupils are split into one of four groups (Wizard, Fighter, Rogue or Ranger) where they learn the tricks of the trade for their particular skillset. After a while they are put into 'parties' (one from each group) where they will have to learn to work together and complete quests set by the Academy with the aim of raising their capabilities and 'levelling up'. As you would expect, our four heroes don't get on particularly well at the start and when their first quest mission ends in spectacular failure all does not look good for the future. Thankfully they are saved when Storesmaster Cullglass takes a chance on them, setting them other quest missions which are slightly more successful but........don't things seem a little bit 'off''? What does Cullglass want with the artifacts our heroes retrieve? Will they ever reach Level Two?
What we have with this book is a great fun read where the pages just fly by, plenty of questing, adventuring, Dungeons, magic, battles and traps. The characters are interesting, each with their own little secrets and the world, as it opens out, is an adventurers dream, For me the pages just flew by and I won't lie, I was disappointed when it was all over. Here's hoping for more adventures with Durren, Areine, Tia and Hule - and the sooner the better for me