Title: The Last Grand Master
Author: Andrew Q. Gordon
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages/Word Count: 40 Pages and 350 Pages
At a Glance: The short prequel was cute, and the novel was good, but there were parts that dragged on in the middle after an explosive beginning.
Reviewed By: Jennifer
Blurb: In a war that shook the earth, the Six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For the three thousand years since, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity.
But then a new wizard unleashes the power of Neldin. Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, uses dark magic to create an army of creatures to carry out his master’s will.
One by one, the sovereign realms fall. Soon the only wizard who can stop Meglar is Grand Master Farrell, the Prince of Haven, the hidden home of refugees. An untried wizard, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.
While helping Nerti, queen of the unicorns, Farrell saves Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen to be Farrell’s mate. But Farrell approaches love with caution, and before he can decide how to proceed, Meglar invades a neighboring kingdom. Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Farrell pushes himself to the limit as he and Miceral fight not only to stop Meglar but for their very survival.
Review: Both First Love (the FREE Prequel) and The Last Grand Master are being reviewed together, so let me talk about the prequel first.
First Love is a short, forty page story in the Champion of the Gods fantasy series by Andrew Q. Gordon. It follows Farrell visiting his birthplace of Yar-del and falling for Cameron, a handsome Lieutenant. Though short, I enjoyed Farrell’s hesitation with Cameron and the nervousness surrounding a first love. It was sweet, and I hoped to see that in the next novel. Actually, I was hoping Cameron would still be around, but, like most first loves, it clearly wasn’t meant to last, but it gave Farrell a brief respite from his secluded life.
On to The Last Grand Master. The beginning was explosive. I mean, seriously. It starts with Farrell meeting Nerti, queen of the unicorns, and running off to help people being attacked by the evil wizard Meglar. There’s tension, some humor, a look into Farrell’s powerful magic, and world building. We learn of the different races that coexist, the evil that is Meglar, and watch some badass Muchari warriors. We also meet Miceral, the one the gods have intended for Farrell.
I love Miceral. Of all the characters he was the best to me. He’s consistent, strong, puts up with Farrell, and is just all around awesome. At first I was a little wary because he seemed to fall for Farrell so quickly, but given that the gods—who do communicate with the people and aren’t just myths—basically said, hey, this guy is the man you’ve been waiting for and is the love of your life, then I can let it slide.
Farrell, on the other hand, started to drive me crazy. He starts off strong and rushes into action. I loved the tension of those scenes, wondering if he was going to make everything work. But as the middle of the book neared, his character was inconsistent to me. One moment he was a strong, composed leader, the next he was showing off with his magic and playing ridiculous pranks and doing things he’s never done, and then he’s freaking out thinking Miceral is going to leave him because he cried about his dead mother and mentor. I had to put the book down at that point and walk away for a moment. He was overly dramatic and often bemoaned his past. Meanwhile, there are people around him who have lost a whole lot more than him.
He also repeats things a lot, which was distracting, and the tub scenes were overused. It seemed like every few pages Miceral and Farrell would end up in the tub to talk or relax, or fool around. Farrell also sometimes used his magic for mundane things that bothered me. He has a servant who cleans his room, but he can magically empty his tub, move chairs around, conjure handkerchiefs, and the like, but can’t wave a hand and have everything cleaned instantly? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but sometimes a little less detail is more.
There are a lot of other characters. Sometimes it’s hard to remember who they all are, and sometimes I forgot some of them. But it’s a large world, and the author is going epic level with the series, so that’s to be expected. How the author kept track of them all and never seems to mix them up in the book I’ll never know! Not everyone is important, and some people show up once or twice and then fade away, so don’t worry too much if you read this book and, like me, forget who some people are.
The author doesn’t throw in gratuitous sex scenes, so if you’re looking for that, this is not the book. In fact, thinking back, I don’t think any of the sex actually occurs on the page. If it does, I don’t remember it, but I do know they were quite a few fade to black scenes and some mornings after with gentle teasing, which was cute. But remember, this book is a fantasy, and is not meant to be strictly a romance. It just happens to have two men at the center who do fall in love. Adding sex scenes to the book wouldn’t have furthered any plot. That said, the book could have been a lot shorter—and as a result more cohesive—had the middle section been reduced. Some of the section breaks were only a few short paragraphs and didn’t seem to add much to the story.
Though I seem critical of the book, I did like it. After the middle section, it does pick up again towards the end, and I was drawn back into the story, and the tension rises to the levels it had in the beginning. The ending was sad, as there is a war going on, and not everyone is going to make it, but at the same time it was satisfying. The author clearly left it open for another book, but doesn’t leave the readers hanging so that you’re screaming for him to finish, which is great. And you will want to read the next book because this story is far from over.
Will I read the sequel to this? Yes. I want to know what’s next in store for Miceral, Farrell, and everyone else. I want to see how Farrell grows and matures throughout the series as he becomes more confident in his roles and loses that doubt he sometimes has.
You can buy The Last Grand Master here: