Will Gallows and the Rock Demon's Blood by Derek Keilty
|Will Gallows and the Rock Demon's Blood by Derek Keilty|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A more patchy volume this time round, but enough of the drama of this genre-crossing world is still there.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: March 2013|
The Great West Rock has never been the most peaceful place in which to live. There is a healthy attempt at multiculturalism, with humans, elves, dwarves and good trolls getting along OK, but for the bad trolls nobody likes. Unfortunately they're making themselves more and more known. Will Gallows is a little upset that he's not being allowed to learn any magic, but the unease and tetchiness throughout the land will hit his small family when someone makes off with a herd of their new calves. Even worse, who – or what – is behind a lot that is going on has a game-changing connection to his family's immediate past…
These books are very good at pointing out that if this were a Western movie, our hero Will would be the Indian – favourite horse, poisonous blow-darts, tribal name and so on. But for this book Derek Keilty reins in the stereotypes of that particular genre. There is no chase against a steam train here; instead we are a lot closer to routine fantasy. Indeed the magical side to the main baddie (who is as bad as a fantasy character called Jake can be allowed to get) provides for a couple of icky details, meaning that those who were old enough for the first two books might not necessarily be mature enough for this third.
However, be too mature and intelligent and you will see the cattle rustling episode for what it is a mile off, meaning the first large chunk of this book is a little on the weak side. It's just one instance of why these books can be given respectable ratings on this site, but they don't completely set the world on fire. Here too there is a little woolliness to the plotting – and I don't mean the extended flashback – and a get-out-of-jail-free episode towards the end that is quite ridiculous. All the same, I do like these books. The blend of genres has a great character, and I like the people on these pages. Even if we once more go into subterranean lands to add depth and darkness none of this is getting too old.
There is no sense of this being the closing book of a trilogy – if anything there is a strong hint that Will Gallows will come back older, wiser and more of a fighter. This will allow Keilty to bring the customary action spark back to the series, where this example lacks it somewhat. The first book had a feisty young Will risking all to bring to justice the man who killed his father, and that's what we want – here it is obvious Will is too reactive, and does not have enough decisions to make. My ultimate decision is to stick with this series, however, for it does have a good spirit to it. Four stars for fans, less for the newcomer.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Goblins vs Dwarves by Philip Reeve has a more wacky side to its fantasy about odd creatures.
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