Genre: Military Fantasy
Series: World of Prism
Publisher: Self-published (July 14, 2011)
My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.
Garrison by Nigel Edwards is a military fantasy novella of a company of fresh recruits traveling across an arid landscape toward their first post: a fort along a wild, untamed border. Among this band is one youth called Ataqa: a farmer’s son, who doesn’t attempt to hide his fear of what lies ahead. Another is the brash and confident Hoop, who yearns for battle and glory. And marching beside them is a rugged, enigmatic veteran known only as Von, who tries to impart some veteran wisdom to their inexperienced minds.
What will these three soldiers face? Do they have what it takes to survive this harsh new reality? What enemies await them? And does Von mean to help them or throw them to the wolves?
Now, this story reads very much like Starship Troopers in sandals, so for those who hate that sort of thing, don’t say I didn’t warn you before you kept reading, but for those who think that sounds cool, please continue.
Here Mr. Edwards does a great job translating the daily routine of soldiers into a fantasy setting – for this is definitely a fantasy land, filled with strange beasts and talk of magic – and weaving an interesting narrative around that framework. Quickly, a reader learns enough about each of the three main characters to have an emotional attachment to them; the ominous enemies are described to instill fear; there are rousing speeches exhorting martial prowess; and then the garrison and these enemies face off in a battle royal that introduces both the recruits and the readers to the harshness and brutality of hand-to-hand combat in fantasy land – including some rather cool moments like when the soldiers dig pit trenches to attack the enemy cavalry as they pass over their heads!
The most interesting person in this tale by far was Von. With his shadowy past and mysterious role within the company, he was immediately intriguing. When these things were added to his constant poise, understanding and toughness throughout the narrative, it seemed inevitable that readers would gravitate toward him. So while Ataqa and Hoop are definitely the stars of the show, Von stole it – at least, in my opinion.
The only negative I had with this novella was that there really wasn’t much of a plot. It stayed true to the very linear story of recruit-experiencing-his-first-battle and never strayed far from it. Even when a side story involving Von’s mysterious past came up, it really seemed to be introduced to allow the veteran to impart more wisdom to his youthful proteges rather than form a new plot thread.
According to Edward Nigel, Garrison is an extension of the novel, Prism, with the physical world of that world as the backdrop to this novella, and while it is narrow in scope, it is still an entertaining story.