The Aielund Saga is a series of books written by author and artist Stephen Nowland. I first learned of him through a computer game called Neverwinter Nights. It has a toolset that allows us to tell our stories through game modules using their game engine. The Aielund Saga is a high-rated, award winning series of modules made by Stephen. He's turned them into books that are even better.
One of my favorite things about these books is that the author paints his covers. Beautiful artistry. :)
Book 1, Nature Abhors a Vacuum
For Aiden Wainwright, a short trip to the nearby town of Bracksfordshire was supposed to be an opportunity for continuing his research into the arcane. But unfortunate circumstances see the town gates closed for weeks, and with supplies running low, Aiden finds himself thrust into the role of town saviour. Together with an old friend of dubious character, a drunken ranger on the edge, and a church acolyte out of her depth, he sets out to fill the vacuum of power left by the absent King’s army, and deal with a rapidly escalating situation that threatens the security of the entire land, while uncovering the mysteries behind his own past.
Have you ever read one of those books where you're instantly interested in the main character? Yeah. This is it. It starts with a prologue of an incident in the Aiden Wainwright's youth. Chapter 1 begins with him as an adult who has been defined by that incident. The city they're in has been shut down and someone has to get through for supplies.
A number of characters join him along the way. Each one of these people have their own personality and are given the time to develop to the point where the reader is invested in what happens to each and every one. My favorite is the cleric, Nellise. (I have a thing for beautiful clerics, but . . . ) Actually, my biggest complaint about these books is that Nellise's life is going to suck. I'm certain it will end badly. *sigh*
The dialogue has humor scattered throughout, the battle scenes are vivid and intense, and the characters make you like or hate them. For the first time in a long while, I found myself staying up late, not wanting to put the book down.
I truly recommend this to anyone who likes high fantasy. At over 200,000 words, it's a tale of epic proportions that reads fast.
Book 2, In Defense of the Crown
From the peril of the high seas to the urban landscape of Fairloch, capital of Aielund, Aiden Wainwright and his companions are charged with protecting the only heir to the throne whilst seeking out the conspirators that plot her capture, and who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.
Out of his depth in the largest city in the land, Aiden recruits the aid of the few allies he can find and trust; a sailor with a criminal past, an old knight close to retirement, a savage exiled from her home and a druid banished from her lands, her order falling toward darkness.
Combining their forces, they spearhead the investigation to track down the enemies of the crown and the powerful interests that support them, but while investigating the real reason behind the war in the west, Aiden discovers an enemy far more sinister than the petty villains who seek to seize power.
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"In Defense of the Crown" is even faster paced than the first novel. The strengths of these books are the action, the banter in the dialogue, the suspense of the plot and the variety of characters. Like the first, it's hard to put this book down.
A couple of characters that were in the first book are no longer with the party, but new ones come in to fill the void. Each character is introduced to the reader and given time to develop. They have their own distinct personalities that either blend or clash, making the relationships very dynamic.
My favorite character is Nellise . . . at the moment anyway. Nellise is the type of character that led me to write my own books. She goes through moral dilemmas. People are mean to her. Others try to sway her opinion for their own needs. Nellise suffers and will continue to do so. I don't know what's going to happen in the next books, but I know for certain that whatever happens to Nellise is going to piss me off. The women in my books tend to be anti-Nellises. By now, she would have killed Pacian. At the very least, she would have distanced herself from him. Just sayin'.
I like the princess too, except that she started out as tough, but then became a bit useless. I'd like her to find some gumption along with keeping her flair.
Speaking of moral dilemmas, the author has great fun with them. The characters constantly argue about right and wrong, each making good points about their position. The reader tends to side with certain characters, or at least I did. Random banter between the characters leads to laugh out loud moments.
Every step of the adventure is perilous and exciting, from on board the ship, through the city and into the castle. I highly recommend these books and am looking forward to the rest . . . even if I'm going to get pissed off at the fate of Nellise.
About the Author
I am often astonished by the sheer amount of ideas that go through my head. I have tasked myself to grab hold of as many as I can, weave them into stories, shaping them to my will, and like, writing them down, because people can't read thoughts.
I spent over fifteen years dealing with poor health, including chronic fatigue syndrome (a symptom of other stuff, but annoying nonetheless) which gave me ample time for thinking, but slowed me down in the way of actually writing.
My first novel was actually done back in aught three, but I didn't care for that sort of thing at the time, so I scrapped it and started writing a new story for Neverwinter Nights, that RPG video game thing you may or may not have heard of.
The story was so successful (filled with rich, creamy character development) that I lamented that only people playing the game would ever see it. In 2009, with my health improving, I resolved to novelize the stories I'd written, in addition to developing the world in which they exist, for fun and profit.
Thus was my first novel conceived, and lo, it was published online, for the enjoyment of all! The saga will be five books in total, with another 4-5 books after that as a second saga that's in the pipeline.
Oh, I also paint. Expect to see more cover art with each title, probably becoming more technically sophisticated each time.
I have decided to review books that I enjoy. I am an avid reader of fantasy, so most of them will be in that genre. I'm not taking any requests, just reading what catches my eyes. You'll find that most of these are from Indie Authors. The way I figure it, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Alan Dean Foster and Piers Anthony (my favorite authors) already have enough reviews, but Indies could always use a few more.
It is important to note here that while I am a writer, I am doing these reviews as a reader. I also know a number of the authors I will be reviewing. This is not an exchange of reviews, nor have I been solicited by those authors to write the review. At no time will I ever accept any form of payment for a review. When I say that I'm am doing this as a reader, I mean it. I get nothing in exchange.
All my best,
John H. Carroll