Edition 13: Book Review: The Hazards of the Old Ones by Ren Garcia
Reviewed by Mysti Parker
When I began reading the second book of my friend Ren Garcia’s Elder League series, I expected a good story with all the sci-fi/steampunk fun of the first one, but I didn’t expect the depth of feeling this book contained. If I hadn’t already been hooked by the first book, I would definitely have been hooked with this one.
The story continues where the first book left off. In this novel, we are reunited with some familiar faces, including Captain Davage, Lord of Blanchefort, his wife and former Black Hat, Sygillis, and Davage’s first officer Kilos, among others. We see even more of the magical workings of familiar constructible energies—evil Shadow tech (employed by the Black Hats) and its opposite Silver tech. We are also introduced to several new characters—one of whom happens to be a Silver tech construct turned cosmic spirit. This character, a lovable silver seal by the name of Carahil, drives the plot of this story.
When strange warnings start appearing in various places, all signed with a vague, yet sinister “M”, Carahil knows something is wrong. What he discovers is troubling. An entire world (a rival planet) will soon be destroyed unless he intervenes. Trouble is, even among powerful cosmic spirits, rules of conduct exist. He cannot directly intervene in any situation such as this, or he will be cast down from his role as ‘god’ and will be made a demon. But, Carahil cannot bear the thought of billions of people dying, even if they are enemies of the League. He has to employ the cleverest of plans for this to work in everyone’s favor.
At this point, the story really dove into some deeper waters of character and emotion that the first book didn’t quite reach. For one, we come to know Lieutenant Kilos much better. She’s torn between her role as first mate to Davage (a job she really loves) and leaving his service to go back home to her husband (whom she also really loves). Just after she makes the decision to leave her position, she’s intercepted by Carahil, who insists he needs her help.
Part of his master plan to save the planet-in-peril involves Kilos. Only she can start the series of events that must occur for this to work. I loved their partnership, because it allowed the author’s bottomless imagination to overflow into the rest of the intricate, action-filled plot. More and more people (like Davage’s sister, Lady Poe) are drawn into Carahil’s plan, and each one of them has a very important role to play. As each step draws them closer to the ultimate goal, the characters personalities fully emerge and converge beautifully. Some of them succeed, some tragically fail, but no one is extraneous.
Well, almost no one. The only person we don’t really hear from or about again is Kilos’ husband, until the very end. At the beginning of the story, he’s basically told her “Come home or it’s over,” but she doesn’t do anything about it or worry much about it after she teams up with Carahil. Maybe non-romance fans wouldn’t notice or care much, but I am what I am. I want Kilos to be more upset and worried about him, maybe calling home or sending a message, assuring him that she still loves him and worrying that he might up and leave instead. Of course, things were pretty intense and would naturally be a distraction to her, but seeing as how we came to know her better in this book, I found this little bit lacking.
Luckily, Ren makes up for this with his unbelievable imagination and ability to weave several characters, plots and subplots together into one satisfying ending. Readers are sure to fall in love with this cast, especially Carahil, and I have the distinct feeling that we haven’t seen the last of him by a long shot.
If you love sci-fi, fantasy, and/or steampunk, with unconventional plots and unforgettable characters, you need to read this series. Highly recommended for young adult readers and beyond.
The Hazards of the Old Ones (League of Elder series), by Ren Garcia
Publisher: Loconeal Publishing, 2011
Mysti Parker is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya’s Song, was published in April 2012. She is also the proud writer of Unwritten, a blog recently voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award.