Child of a Mad God Review

Child of a Mad God by R.A. Salvatore is the first fantasy book in his brand new Coven series. The author holds a very special place in the fantasy world to me as his Legend of Drizzt along with the Dragonlance Chronicle series was what got me started in reading fantasy novels and more importantly, reading in general. That was almost a decade or more ago. After hundreds of novels later, I feel reunited back with the author in his newest fantasy series offering. Unfortunately, this reunion will need to be cut short. I am dreaded to say that Child of a Mad God no longer meets my personal qualifications for a great and engaging fantasy novel. It was such a huge disappointment for me as I actually debated whether to stop reading once I got to Part 4. It was ultimately due to the sheer amount of respect and gratitude I had for the author that I decided to finish the book and not have to slap the “did not finish” label on it. On a positive note, I’m pretty glad that I did do so because it definitely got better towards the end. However, that alone can’t atone for the previous three parts of the book or so.

One of my biggest complaint with Child of a Mad God is with the utter lack of any interesting characters! I couldn’t believe it at first but the sure-tale signs slowly crept up as I read on. I’m sure many will disagree with me and argue that Aoleyn is interesting but in my defense, just because she is the supposed main focal point and protagonist doesn’t automatically make her immune to uninteresting-ness. She’s obviously more interesting to read than Talmadge but not by a lot. Aoleyn being young and full of potential to harness the power of the crystals than any woman before her in the tribe is strong willed and stubborn. This paints her as different and unusual, even dangerous, when compared to the other older and wizened witches in the Usgar tribe. We follow in her footsteps as she journeys into learning what it takes to become a witch of the Coven and why they are so revered in a camp dominated by male tribal warriors. Talmadge on the other hand is more of your typical traveler/loner type character. The issue here mainly revolves, in my opinion, of Talmadge not really having any portion of significance in the story until later. But at that point, I’ve already lost interest. Character development for Aoleyn does give us a glimpse of the women she will become in future books but if anything, the story seems to have been written in plain’ol black and white fashion in that you’re either on the good guy side or the bad guy side, not much room for the in-between to make things more interesting. I could obviously be wrong as this is just the first book of the series though so who knows. There just wasn’t much room to hint at otherwise from when I read it.

I did like the overall fantasy setting in Child of a Mad God. While Aoleyn is mainly restricted to the confines of her encampment area in the upper mountain ranges, Talmadge has a more free reign approach to travel throughout the different villages. What I wished was for more interaction between Talmadge and the local tradesmen of the different villages. We learn that the villages and territories can vary greatly due to cultural differences yet it would have been great highlights if Talmadge were to told some of the stories he encountered throughout his travels of the land. When it comes to the fantasy aspect, we are dealing mainly with the power and song of the crystals that only the women seem to have a knack to draw the powers out of. As you could expect, different types of crystals grant specific powers. I didn’t really think too much about this system but it seemed to fit the story well enough, Besides, it all depends on the characters themselves to create something special with these powers. An interesting character can make the most boring of magical system come alive if given the chance but the reverse is also true in that a brilliant magic system can be no fun to read about if wielded by mundane type characters. I believe this series is considered dark fantasy but the author doesn’t go into extreme details for some of the more gruesome scenes so hope that helps.

Although Child of a Mad God may have been a disappointment to me, thinking back on it, I seem to remember the author always having written his stories in similar fashion. It wasn’t a disappointment back then personally simply due to myself not having enough exposure. After having read many other series since then, both fantasy and non-fantasy types, I discovered personally that I like stories that deals more with character depth and development. Whereas it was always about being either good or evil, I tend to now favor more complicated scenarios that pit characters in difficult situations that require more planning and scheming to enhance the story line. Simply put, I feel that I have outgrown the work of this author. I obviously can’t say the same for anyone else as we’re all different. What I do hope to see is the authors books continuing to inspire a different generation of readers similar to how he did for me almost a decade ago. For that I will always salute the author for and continue to wish him the best of success!

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