The Roads to Baldairn Motte is an epic fantasy in the vein of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and Erikson’s The Malazan Book of the Fallen, in that it has a large list of characters, each with different plots, all of whom are caught up in a continent spanning war. Where those more famous epic fantasy series are crafted by one author, however, this novel was penned by three – Garrett Calcaterra, Craig Comer, and Ahimsa Kerp, and with that in mind, this book is amazingly cohesive and easy to follow along with, even though each story is different in tone and style than its sister tales.
Here the stories show a huge war being played out in a well-developed land of medieval times. There are political machinations ongoing in these realms of kings and nobility; upheaval is ripping the land apart; and armies and navies are being sent out to wage war. Where other series tend to focus on the “power players” of these types of conflicts, here the three authors decided to take a different approach, shining the spotlight on the more common folk in the tale, showing how these whores, sailors, and other “normal” people find their life impacted by the conflict between their “betters.” Something that gave this fantasy a very different flavor than my normal reads.
The other thing that made The Roads to Baldairn Motte a bit different was the writing approach to this tale – the novel being divided into three distinct sections. Here, Garrett Calcaterra, Craig Comer, and Ahimsa Kerp each developed their own vision of this ongoing conflict with different characters in their own unique sections of the novel. Nothing about the world itself or its ongoing conflict changed, but the stories themselves were distinctly different in focus and viewpoint. And while there were recurrent characters who appeared throughout, each of these was seen in different lights in each author’s story. Something that caused the reading of this story to be out of the ordinary, feeling more like an anthology tale than a single novel.
Now, naturally, all was not completely rosy when three authors are writing what is basically one long tale. Honestly, there were points in the tale where it seemed the current author was trying to wrap up a lingering thread from his coauthors’ section as quickly as possible. And many times, I felt that there was not enough groundwork laid for scenes or plots that were going to continue in the next section of the book, or to put it another way, things were told to me instead of being shown to me. But other than those complaints I had no major issues with the story as a whole.
Overall, this was a well developed and crafted fantasy novel. It had enough world building to establish the reasons for the war and its combatant’s motives and desires as well as enough description of important events to build the story to its conclusion. There were more than a few memorable characters to keep me interested, so while this story did not blow me away, it was definitely an entertaining read and well worth a try for epic fantasy fans.
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