“Spell/Sword” by G. Derek Adams

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“Spell/Sword” by G. Derek AdamsSpell/Sword by G. Derek Adams
Series: Spell/Sword #1
Published: 2013 by Lodestar
Genres: Fantasy, Humor
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: the author
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Jonas is good with a sword, but he has no common sense (or other talents, for that matter).  After getting arrested for a brawl outside of a tavern, he ends up being sentenced to help guard a woman named Rime on her travels.  Rime is secretly a wild mage, and wild mages aren’t supposed to be allowed to live.  Rime is on her way to chase a legendary witch who she thinks can help her contain her powers before she loses control and unleashes apocalyptic chaos upon the world.

Spell/Sword reads a little bit like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.  This is neither good nor bad, it just is.  Many DND campaigns are imaginative and engaging, which is, in fact, the entire point of playing the game.  It’s just that as you’re reading, you can tell that the story follows a bit of a pattern where there are scenes dedicated to conversations (roleplay), scenes where the characters fight (encounters), and scenes where the characters have to use their wits to get out of a tricky situation (skill challenge).  There was a particular encounter involving frogs that reminded me nostalgically of my first DND campaign, so props for that.  Scary frogs ftw!

G. Derek Adams has a fantastic imagination.  Jonas and Rime encounter a vivid cast of characters ranging from your typical enemies on wyverns to less conventional frogs on roller skates.  I enjoyed the fact that it was impossible to predict what challenges our heroes would encounter.  I also enjoyed seeing the workings of Rime’s mind, especially her mental library where she stores the knowledge from all of the books she’s read in her life.

Spell/Sword is intended to be a funny book, but a lot of the humor didn’t work for me.  This is nothing to do with the book itself.  As I mentioned in my review of Alice Will, I have a rather warped sense of humor that doesn’t appreciate things that the rest of the world finds funny, such as the book Good Omens, which most people think is hilarious.

The thing that bothered me the most about Spell/Sword is that the worldbuilding seemed haphazard.  There were important bits of information that we didn’t learn until far too late in the story, i.e. what a wild mage is and why Rime is a danger, which wasn’t revealed until something like 2/3 of the way through the book.  Seeing descriptions of the basic way the world works so late into the story didn’t work well for me; I prefer the worldbuilding to be more seamless and to be integrated into the story early enough to keep me grounded.

Overall thought – Spell/Sword was not quite as polished as I’d like, but the author has potential.  The book could have used a bit more editing, especially to adjust worldbuilding and pacing issues, but there were elements of the story that I enjoyed and would have liked to see fleshed out.

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