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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett

The last volume of the trilogy was as good as I'd hoped, and by the end of the book I was having a hard time putting it down for such unimportant things as work, sleep, and attending to the Beadboys.  There was a fair amount of exposition from heretofore hidden characters, who solved certain mysteries via explanation.  Technically, that's not great writing, but I didn't care because I'm the kind of dork who loves exposition and reads encyclopedias for fun.  Beckett also has a tendency to end a chapter at a cliffhanger and resume the narrative after the cliffhanger was resolved, having the characters tell us in the past tense what happened, creating an anti-climactic vibe.

But these are quibbles, made up for by the satisfying plot and some great characters.  As I wrote earlier, Eldyn was engaging, and he did ultimately have an important role in the defeat of the bad guys (although I don't think it warranted the amount of time spent on him).  Ivy, the heroine, was a real protagonist and not just a love interest or a Damsel in Distress.  She was smart, kind, capable, honorable, and thoroughly likeable, albeit a bit boring in her perfection.  There were also some delightful or fascinating minor characters scattered about the narrative; with the exception of one of Ivy's sisters, none of the people felt underwritten.

The star, however, is Rafferdy, and it was a real treat to see his development from twit to hero.  He started out as the typical rake -- over-privileged, superficially charming, selfish, and determined to avoid any shred of responsibility.  But something about this life was boring.  He could not help noticing that things were getting worse for ordinary folk.  He loved and honored his father too much to refuse to take up his work when the time came.  And as his magical talents strengthened, he became more and more convinced that he had an obligation to use his power (both as a magician and as a lord) to help others.

Sometimes Rafferdy was just trying to live up to his father's expectations, and sometimes he was trying to make himself worthy of the woman he loved.  But mainly, it was simply him realizing that there was something wrong with the world and that he had to do something about it.  Rafferdy is one of the best heroes I've encountered in a long time, and the best thing about these books.

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