“Dragma’s Keep” by Vance Pumphrey


artemisiconSorry for no staged picture, the ebook that I’m reading doesn’t have a nice picture!

I’ve been trying to write this entry paragraph and I keep having to edit it because I was introduced to the Fantasy genre earlier than I thought. Every time I’d write it out, I’d remember an even earlier book. So, my point, is that I’ve been in love with fantasy novels since I was about 5 or 6, my first was about a girl who was sent to the land of the unicorn. So, when this Author approached me to read his book, I JUMPED at the chance to read a new fantasy novel. I love me a good Dungeon crawl!

Now, this sounds like a complete aside, but I assure you it’s relevant! A few years after I got into fantasy novels, I was introduced to this phenomenon called RPG’s. I started playing RIFTS when I was about 11 or 12. I picked up Dungeons and Dragons later on in high school.

The reason that is relevant is because the whole time reading this book, it felt like I was sitting in on a D&D session. His wording choices and conversations sometimes made me think of players yelling at one another. “Cast fire resistance!” Is something you’ll read in this book, but also hear someone yell to their party Spell-caster. It gives it an interesting feel, especially in the time of “televised” D&D sessions. Critcal Roll, Tabletop, and Charisma Plus are just a few off the top of my head. So this book hits in an era where it can cross borders and draw people into the fantasy realm that maybe just started watching a D&D show and found it interesting.

I just have one complaint about that style. Growing up in that world, I don’t notice it as much, but it really dawned on me as I was trying to talk to my boyfriend about certain events. He was confused. This book is written for people with a background, I even found myself getting confused at some things because it’s not always explained. On one hand that’s fine, you shouldn’t be expected to lead the reader by the hand (you’re writing a fiction novel, not an instructions manual), but it might divide seasoned readers from newbie’s to the franchise.

Now, that aside. The book is very formula, enough that I was accidentally jokingly predicting some things. It’s a 5-group dungeon crawl. Magic user, thief, Fighter, Holy Knight, Holy healer. Standard 5-person questing group. Usually the group works, but it also gets a little cliche every time it’s used. Personalities are a little predictable, and the healer is always a woman.

A Spellcaster slowly “hires” people to help him find Dragma’s lost Keep, and the lost treasure apparently within. Only catch is the Keep is guarded by Orcs and a bunch of other nasties. They don’t all get along, but are kept together by their own motives, so there is a lot of bickering amongst them.

I nit-pick a little with grammar and slang and what-not, but that’s more personal preference than the actual Authors writing. This book is well written, sometimes the need for story building conversation is irritating, but it all has a purpose to build character relations, back story, and personality.

I read a review (which I typically try not to so close to writing my own) saying they felt the conversation slowed down some of the events. Fantasy novels all have the formula of pub-talks or campfire-talks. And that’s all this book did. So, to me it didn’t feel slowed down, because so many fantasy novels need a LOT of world building, and conversations help build the world without having to do half a book of explanations. The Police Station in St.Louis doesn’t need a lot of explaining, but Hrreiuwof of Madjfhd’dd keep isn’t quite universal knowledge.

I actually enjoyed the book, it’s an interesting premise, and it’s a fun read.  If you’re looking for a fun quick dungeon crawl, check this book out. It is the first in a series, not a stand alone, so prepare for commitment.

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