Imagine you’re playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Anticipation is high as you prepare to roll the dice, but if the Dungeon Master spends too much time defining the setting or characters, it’s hard to get the game moving.
That’s the feeling in Druantia’s Curse, the second book in fantasy author L.A. Hammer’s elaborate Sons of Odin series. This volume takes up where the first left off, as The immortal Sons of Odin and Daughter of Thor faced an evil curse on masculine magic. Now they also confront a hex upon feminine power as well. It’s up to Adem, Jean, Carl and Wil to put an end to both curses and return balance to the troubled land of Kismeria.
This should be exciting. Indeed, Hammer’s vivid visual imagery (as in, “a blur of motion as the five thousand riders moved in unison like a school of fish navigating on a sea of green”) makes the character’s journeys exhilarating and the battle scenes intense. When they alternate with extended narrative detail, however, it feels as if the Dungeon Master has overdone it.
On the cusp of battle, for instance, Hammer stops to describe the soldiers’ costumes—black armor with golden serpentine dragons for Adem, crimson dragons for Carl. The image is majestic, but Hammer’s focus on physical features repeatedly disrupts the flow of action. A map of Kismeria and a glossary that explains unique vocabulary such as teron (male power) and terael (female power) are useful, but consulting them also takes readers away from the story, slackening the pace further.
Druantia’s Curse is entertaining and full of surprises—from wormholes to vampires—but it requires dedication to track all of the subplots. Casual readers of fantasy may be frustrated by the wealth of detail, but diehard fans will appreciate the Robert Jordan-esque layering of characters, relationships and lands that brings Kismeria to life.
Also available as an ebook.