The Last Child of Leif
In “The Last Child of Leif” we follow the early adventures of Valiant, a young prince rescued by his bodyguard from a palace plot that kills his father. Valiant and his guardian escape, only to find themselves on the run and caught up in something much bigger than just petty palace intrigue–in fact, Valiant may be the key to saving the world.
This is solid epic fantasy/sword and sorcery fare, and readers of that kind of fantasy will find a lot that is familiar here–how you feel about that is up to you. Certainly if you’re looking for a fast-paced, high-action fantasy adventure, “The Child of Leif” will provide you with plenty of entertainment, as Valiant and Sebastian, his bodyguard, go on the run, stumble into a circus troupe, and end up right in the thick of things when they think they’re running away. This is not what could be called extremely “literary” fantasy, but it is good fun for those who want to go on a magical adventure, and not without its philosophical side, as the young Valiant (he is five or thereabouts for most of the book) encounters the adult world for the first time and wonders about things like prejudice against those who look different.
The inclusion of the circus motif shakes up the heroic quest storyline a bit and provides plenty of opportunities for exotic magic and technology–animal spirit-trainers from Africa, dwarfs who run traction engines–as well as propelling the plot forward. The world is a kind of steampunk/alternative history mashup, with the action set in what is recognizably 19th-century (at one point the date is given as 1862) Central and Eastern Europe (and kudos to the author for some nice use of Slavic words like “Blud” for a demon that confuses people), but a Central/Eastern Europe in which the cities have different names and magic is real, as are demons. All in all, a fun, imaginative read for fans of sword and sorcery and epic fantasy
My thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Buy link: Amazon