Tuesday, February 1, 2011

book review: legacy of dhakaan

I’ve never been to Eberron (not surprising since it’s a fictional creation), but novelist Don Bassingthwaite made me feel as if I had been there in the wake of the Last War, after the armies of the hobgoblin warlord Haruuc turned on the people of Cyre and Breland and founded the nation of Darguun. The three books in The Legacy of Dhakaan trilogy (The Doom of Kings, Word of Traitors, and The Tyranny of Ghosts) are terrific additions to WotC’s lineup of Eberron novels. Canadian author Bassingthwaite’s background is in cultural anthropology, and he puts that skill set to good use as he convincingly crafts an exciting, detailed picture of Darguun’s society, politics, and history.

In The Doom of Kings, the shifter Geth (hero of Bassingthwaite’s The Dragon Below trilogy) returns when the Lhesh Haruuc commissions him to find an ancient scepter that the aging warlord believes to be the key to holding Darguun together after his death. Haruuc fears that when he dies, rancorous tribal politics will tear apart his newly formed kingdom unless his successor possesses the legendary Rod of Kings, an ancient Dhakaani artifact. Haruuc chooses Geth to find the long-lost scepter because the shifter holds Wrath, the Sword of Heroes, one of the trio of powerful artifacts to which the Rod of Kings once belonged. Geth and his friends, including Ashi and Ekhaas (also from The Dragon Below trilogy), set out to track down the scepter and safeguard Haruuc’s legacy.

In Word of Traitors, Geth and his companions search for the assassin who killed Haruuc at a moment of crisis for Darguun. While Darguun mobilizes for war with the elves of Valenar, the heroes struggle to come up with a plan to keep the Rod of Kings out of the hands of Tariic, Haruuc’s nephew and the dead lhesh’s unstable successor. After their creation of a false scepter is discovered and they are betrayed by someone they believed to be a friend, Geth and the others find that they’re in a deadly race to retrieve the true rod from its hiding place.

The Legacy of Dhakaan trilogy reaches its thrilling conclusion with The Tyranny of Ghosts. After Geth and his friends were forced to flee Tariic’s wrath, they decided to seek out the last of the trio of powerful Dhakaani artifacts. They believed the enigmatic Shield of Nobles to be the key to destroying the corrupting Rod of Kings. Meanwhile, Ashi, trapped in Rhukaan Draal by the new lhesh, discovered that Tariic’s mad ambition was leading Darguun toward a larger conflict with the nations of Khorvaire.

Bassingthwaite’s trilogy is filled with interesting characters, but the shifter veteran Geth is the reason I liked these books so much. He’s a fascinating hero because he is no lone wolf; he knows that to defeat a very dangerous enemy, he needs the help of his friends. The larger theme of the story is Darguun’s place among the nations of Khorvaire, but the reason you want to keep turning the pages of these books is to find out what happens to Geth and his friends.

You’ll find any Eberron book you pick up by Don Bassingthwaite to be a well-crafted tale of high adventure that combines skillful writing and exciting storytelling. He deserves praise for his superior characterizations of diverse races (human, shifter, hobgoblin, etc) and his knack for telling a believable, engaging story set in the D&D world of Eberron. I’d recommend The Legacy of Dhakaan trilogy to anyone who is a fan of Eberron or D&D, and to anyone who enjoys thrilling sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

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