“A tale of real men, then. Of heroes and kings; of loves lost and loves won; of sacrifice…and of death”
4 out of 5 stars
Thank you Booksirens for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Karik’s First Battle opens up with a prologue, and while I know prologues are not for everyone, I actually love them when they are used well. For me this story utilized the prologue set up in an entertaining manner, we get an old man in a tavern being asked to tell a great story. Instantly we have names and great feats being thrown at us but then that one voice speaks up and says the name of a man that hasn’t been said in years. It instantly creates this curiosity that pulls you into the story and makes you want to hear why the name hasn’t been spoken in so long.
After that the writing of the story very much gives off the effect of someone telling you the story, there are even moments in the phrasing that it pulls you back and reminds you “Ah that’s right an old man in a tavern is telling me this tale.” and I really liked that.
Karik is a young man from a village that is barley surviving and in this village they have a system that when things get to bleak they remove some of the villagers. We instantly get thrown into his bleak daily life in this cold forgotten land and the struggle of his people. The lore that Oliver creates to explain why this isle is the way it is was really interesting and intriguing. Karik is a beautiful character, he constantly thinks about the welfare of his people and what he can possibly do to make their situation better. He doesn’t want his village to just survive he wants to fix their situation. This is a running theme for his character and I absolutely loved it, he is caring and always questioning the things he does not understand.
The cast is relatively big for such a short story but Oliver managed to make it work. Not only do we follow Karik, but we follow four of his friends as well and while only two of those friends stood out, Revik and Igil, the inclusion of the other two didn’t go to the way side nor where they forgotten. Ylmi was introduced a little later and I’m glad to know she has a story coming soon, as her moments in the tale brought about a lot of curiosity for me. Oliver manages to give bits and pieces about certain characters that make you want to stick around and learn more about them. Ylmi, Havar and Dranri are these characters and I can only hope more will be revealed about them. Thora was a character that came very late in the story so she didn’t have much time to shine but from what was given I want more of her!! (Also I am really hoping Revik gets his own tale at some point because I actually ended up liking him a lot)
The one thing that threw me off with this tale is that the opening chapters put a lot of focus on a part of the isle that is surrounded by treacherous rocks that no-one has been able to pass, and Karik has a really high interest in wanting to find a way around them or through them. This ends up getting pushed aside in favor of a dragon fight, and I can only hope that it was done so that it gives more time for that portion of the story to be told. It’s very clear that this one event in this story is not the main reason why Karik is a man no one has spoken of in a long time, but its definitely they start of his tale.
The fight scene with the dragon was full of action and was very vividly portrayed. I was able to see and understand exactly what was happening. I will say the dragon didn’t come off as huge as I am expected to believe, I’m not sure why either, I think it was just the way the fight worked out, but it was entertaining. I will say it did feel a little too easy as well but I have also never fought a dragon so what do I know. For a short story it was a fast action paced fight that kept you on your toes.
The epilogue brings the prologue full circle and back to the present with the old man in the Tavern and it makes the obvious point that there is so much more to the tale of Karik and it builds this curiosity that makes you want more. The quote that I have at the start of this review gives me feelings of what is to come in later tales, I feel not all of those points in that quote from the old man were met in this first installment and I feel over the course of more stories it will start to make more sense.
I will be continuing with this series as I like where it is going and I’m interested to see how Oliver delivers it.