Hey folks, hope you’re all well. 🙂
Today I’ll share my thoughts on Martin Owton’s ‘Exile’ and ‘Nandor’, a dualogy which focuses on Aron of Darien.
Aron is the title’s exile, struggling to survive in a world in which basically everything except his talent with a sword and his sense of duty has been taken from him.
When we meet Aron, he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time – and pays the price for that by being pressed into the local Earl’s service, which not only launches the first novel’s plot and introduces us to most of the tale’s important players, but also gives us a good understanding of Aron. He doesn’t suffer fools, and yet also doesn’t blindly barge into situations which might overwhelm him. He can be headstrong, but also shows empathy and sympathy. He’s the kind of guy you wouldn’t mind getting to know, and the kind of guy who’ll have your back as your friend. His skill with a sword is cool to behold, and most of the time he knows how to navigate politics and intrigue – but his skills don’t help him when it comes to ladies. 😉
‘Exile’ gives us a good view of the world Aron lives in – a distant king who seems to not really give a damn; dukes vying for prestige and honours from said king; scattered towns filled with merchants and men-at-arms; slavers and bandits. There are also magicians, and what’s interesting is that they serve, and aren’t served – it’s a refreshing angle to read, especially in Fantasy.
And Exile also sets us up for book two’s events, in which Aron’s quest will culminate, while bringing to a close certain threads begun in the first book. The book has (and maintains) great pace, is peppered with witty dialogue and serious moments, has an important love story, and features great combat, as well as what reads as well-researched knowledge of the kinds of pre-industrial technology present in Aron’s world.
Exile is old school and enjoyable – it doesn’t reinvent anything, but also doesn’t need to. 🙂
Nandor, the sequel to Exile -and the book which brings and end to Aron’s tale- picks up nine months after Exile’s end; Aron returns to the family he met in Exile when he receives dire news, and decides to lead a rescue mission, which takes him and the people with him into the kind of dangerous territory only hinted at in the first book. the excellent pacing which made Exile tick along is carried through into Nandor, and the characters are really put through their paces, as they find themselves caught up in a war very few people know about. This war, which is also being fought with terrifying magic, forces Aron to make some truly difficult decisions, and no-one escapes unscathed. I was sad when I ended the book, as that meant that Aron’s adventures were done and that we wouldn’t get to explore more of the world Martin created, but you all know what they say about ‘all good things’, right?
The books are available in a variety of formats:
And do check out Martin’s site for more of his work and an exclusive short story featuring Aron.
Until next time,