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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Review: Talion:Revenant by Michael A. Stackpole

"Justice was my gift to the world"
Author: Michael A. Stackpole
Paperback: 467 pages
Publisher: Spectra (March 31, 1997)
Formats: Paperback and Ebook

           For years, Stackpole has been lauded by the Science Fiction community for his superb Star Wars and Battletech novels. This review is about his first novel, Talion:Revenant. The interesting thing about Talion: Revenant is that it originally was not published because it was to long for an unknown author. All I have to say is I am quite glad that Talion: Revenant was eventually released.

           The novel begins with Nolan, an experienced Justice, hunting down the thief Morai and his various lackeys. After Nolan deals with a fair amount of Morai’s lackey’s, the story switches to when Nolan was younger in and pursuit to become a Justice. Stackpole does a great job of switching the viewpoints of the young and adult Nolan.

           The word Talion, in the title, refers to the peacekeeping force of the Shattered Empire. The closest example that I can think of to describe Talion’s are Jedi from George Lucas’ Star Wars. Talions reside in the beautiful valley city, Talianna and are divided into seven different groups.

1. Elites- A group of Talions who ride hawks and do reconnaissance missions.
2. Wizards- A group of Talions who use magic
3. Warrior- A group of Talions who are trained as an elite fighter
4. Lancer- A group of Talions who train with a lance
5. Archer- A group of Talions who master the bow and arrow
6. Servers- A group of Talions who deal with maintaining Talianna
7. Justice-The most important group of Talions who are tasked with maintaining peace in the Shattered Empire.

            The division of Talions that is the most interesting is the Justice. Before one can become a Justice, they must be at least adequate in the skills of other divisions and go through a grueling training regimen. The most notable thing about the Justice is the skull tattoo on there hand which allows them to steal the soul of whomever they would like. If a Justice decides to steal the soul of a person, they must undergo a ritual in which they are cleansed of the soul. If the soul was taken in malice, the Justice is put to death.

          Nolan, as a Justice, is put in intriguing moral situations as both as an adult and a prospective justice. The adult Nolan has all of the power of the world, but must refrain from using it because of his own moral code. The young Nolan’s quest to find his place as a prospective Justice is intoxicating. Should he dispense justice as a fearful entity or use his wits and good nature to ensure stability in the Shattered Empire?

         I only had two issues with the novel. The first issue is more of a personal gripe than an issue with the novel itself. One of the fight scenes in the middle of the book involves Nolan and 3 others, fighting back hundreds of goblin workers. The issue I have with this fight is that it lacks the finesse of all of the other fights throughout the novel and is reduced to a massacre that resembles a DOTA game (I apologize for the nerdy video game reference) or a tower defense game. The second issue I have with the novel is that the ending is a bit rushed. The issues I have in all honesty are quite small and should not affect your decision to read the book.

        Talion:Revenant was a quick and interesting read for me. The novel has all the qualities that a novel should have: a believable setting, fleshed out characters, and intriguing moral questions.

Talion:Revenant review score: 37/50

World Building- 6/10
Writing- 7/10
Magic- 9/10


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