Talion: Revenant by Michale A. Stackpole is a standalone fantasy book. There will always be times when a person can take so much of something before being forced to take a break. After having continuously read fantasy books in a series, I decided it was time again to take a no-commitment approach. I didn’t want to wait for the next book in a series to get released. I just wanted to read a fantasy story that ended in one standalone book. Talion:Revenant was my pick. The premise of the novel definitely got me interested but I had a slight feeling that it would cater more to the YA genre, which I wouldn’t like at all. Unfortunately, my worst fears were confirmed immediately in the beginning. It’s not as bad as I initially thought it would be though. It’s more so of how the author choose to tell the story that trended towards that YA category.
The story is told through the eyes of Nolan, who is a Justice in the world and whose job is to bring law and order throughout the nations. They are well respected throughout the empire but due to their mystique, are well feared as well by the commoners and nobles. Nolan aims to change that. The novel weaves in and out between chapters of telling Nolan’s present situation/life and that of his past and how he actually became a Justice. It was this retelling of Nolan’s past and of his adventures while in the “academy” that attributed to that YA genre that I so dreaded. I honestly don’t think it really took anything away from the actual story so you can definitely point at my personal bias towards the YA genre that made me somewhat disliking the novel more than I should. However, with that being said, I still believe what the author did here is pretty amazing, considering this was his first novel written.
As to the characters, fret not. There isn’t a whole cast characters you need to keep track of unlike many other epic fantasy stories of today. However, I wouldn’t consider this novel epic in any sense so keeping the character count low was a good choice especially how Talion: Revenant isn’t a big book to begin with. One issue I did have with Nolan as a character is that the author needed to put him through more tougher situations. We understand what Nolan is striving for with his good guy Justice attitude but I wanted to see his character to be really tested. Make it more of a grey area situation, you know? The rest of the cast is pretty much standard affair and not much memorable. This is one area I’m hoping the author will improve on in his later novels. It almost feels like he does just enough but doesn’t go further than he should.
One of the problem I had prior to even reading the very first page is how the author/publisher spoiled the “surprise” right in the book description about Nolan having to protect the king who destroyed his home and murdered his family! I wished they would have covered this part a bit more in the description only because of how the plot and characters unfold. With the limited amount of cast and how each chapter alternates between Nolan’s present and the past, it’s not really that hard to make a guess at which characters would come into play in the final conclusion. Speaking of which, I’m also not too fond of how the second half of the story was played out. The pacing was just weird. In the first half, we follow Nolan on a bandit chasing crusade. However, I’m sure many readers such as myself must have known that this was just a distraction because the main plot, as described in the actual description itself, have yet to happen. So, for the second half of the book or so, we get thrown in to an actual mystery type setting of Nolan trying to unravel the plan to get the king assassinated. It just felt a bit off for my liking.
The world building, for a book this size, is pretty on-point. The author gives just enough to satisfy but not outdoing it to the point of it being mundane and boring. Basically, he struck a good balance and that’s always impressive to do in any standalone novel. Some authors tend to overdo it because they probably feel that with the story being a standalone, they’d need to cram everything in and make the book bigger than necessary. Fight scenes were also sprinkled throughout the story in small doses to change the pacing and although nothing spectacular, it did do its job of changing the pace a bit.
Was I glad in having read the book? Yes. However, I’m also glad that it was a standalone because I probably wouldn’t have followed the series. The book’s length was perfect as a standalone novel. Although my review may seem more on the negative side than positive, I would still have to say that Talion: Revenant was a good-just-above-average fantasy novel. I have pretty high standards and so that always plays a part in my review process.