2 out of 4 stars
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End of the Last Great Kingdom is a dark fantasy novel by Victor Rose. It is a coming-of-age story about Brimstone, an orphan who has just earned the title of a mage. Far from the powerless status he had when he was still called Leaf, Brimstone has gained the respect of his peers after passing the most dangerous trial: surviving a duel with a mage instructor. Things started to look better for Brimstone were it not for the unfortunate incident that happened after a mage battle. Although he lost a leg, he was still accused of sabotaging the activity. This started an unfortunate series of events that led to a political struggle within the entire kingdom. Will Brimstone be able to clear his name after escaping from his captors? Will his friends be able to find him before it’s too late?
I had very high hopes for this book. When I started reading it, I was immediately amazed by the rich history incorporated by Rose as a background to the story. Although filled with elves, orcs, and dwarves, Rose was still able to create a fresh and unique world for his characters. What I liked most about this book is its ability to entice the reader into entering a magical world where one can see these beings in a whole new light. In this book, orcs were not mindless beasts that should be feared. They were also capable of caring for others. I recommend it to lovers of fantasy who would like to see these beings in a new perspective.
On the other hand, I felt that Rose wanted so much to differentiate his story from the usual stereotypes that he created another kind of stereotype by not giving the elves the same kind of treatment he gave to the orcs. As I read the novel, I wasn’t able to find a likable elf. Further, the use of demons as sources of Brimstone’s powers really bothered me. I can understand that the author merely wanted to create a different kind of world. However, he seems to be trying to set all things in reverse instead of merely doing something new.
The more that I read the book, the more horrified I felt. Although all the main characters were children, they had no restraint in killing others. As Brimstone became more powerful, he also became more callous and merciless. Although I can understand the need to take a life when necessary, I can’t understand the lack of remorse after doing so. I think this is what I disliked most about the book. It depicts killing as something that can be done without regret. This quote from the book coming from a boy is quite frightening: “No one survives. We can’t have any witnesses.” I certainly cannot recommend this book for younger readers. There is just too much violence in it. The novel seems to thrive in darkness. I guess this is a story that shows us what could possibly happen in a world without hope.
There were other things I felt lacking in the story. In terms of character development, I felt like it was only Brimstone whom I got to know really well. Although Heat was supposed to be his romantic interest, her character was not given enough chance to be differentiated from his other friends. Did she have a sense of humor? Did she have a peculiar mannerism that Brimstone found lovable? There was also a lack of written material to convince the reader how Brimstone and Heat fell in love with each other after spending so much time apart.
In terms of pacing, I felt there was an irregular rhythm to the flow of the story. There were times when the story was so fast-paced that I just had to rest and stop reading it. I felt I couldn’t take it anymore as Brimstone experienced one unfortunate thing over another (being dragged to prison after just surviving a mage battle). On the other hand, there were times when the same thing just seems to be happening and I felt it was too monotonous and dragging. An example of this was when the main characters traveled several times from one place to another.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. The book has just enough merits to avoid being rated with 1 star. However, as can be read from above, there were various issues that cannot be ignored. In addition, I have found several grammatical errors that need correction.
End of the Last Great Kingdom
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