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Tower of Ruin by William A. Kooiker

Posted by travizzt on November 6, 2009

Five adventures set out to investigate a seemingly abandoned town and its secrets. They find out that some secrets are deadlier than others.

Tower of Ruin
by William A. Kooiker- Tower of Ruin is the first book that the author has written. So far it’s a stand-alone novel set in the World of Whitethorn. I never have heard of this setting, but I assume it’s a role-playing game setting. William A. Kooiker has written another book entitled Knight of the Dove, but it doesn’t have anything to do with this story.

A group of five adventures are meeting each other in the city named Calas. We are slowly introduced to each character throughout the story with a little background information. The first person of the original group is a ranger named Kyligan, who is constantly plagued by nightmares. He comes across a family in peril, and comes to their aid. The next morning, Kyligan and the father of the family meet up with the other four group members. The father kind of tells a tale of the horrors he seen in his hometown of Oester, but doesn’t really give much information on the matter. The group then decides to approach the king of Calas to sway him to send an investigation to the town. The king refuses but allows the group to go investigate for him, while the king’s son, Calien, persuades his father to allow him to go with the group. The story then follows the groups travel to the town of Oester and the adventures and dangers they come across before reaching the horrors that await them in Oester.

1) Slow. The books pacing is a little slow, and at times, I felt, it hinders the readers pacing. It’s not really bad, more like annoying. The beginning, when we first meet of heroes and when they begin on their journey, it just felt like it took forever. Then, every once in a while, the story picks the pace up, only to suddenly come to a crawl and it really distracted me and threw me off. But, it really doesn’t affect the overall story.
2) Convenience. This is what was really mind-boggling and a little silly is that there was this one scene later in the story that our heroes are fleeing from an ‘army’ of orcs, and conveniently, we had a person show up and ‘save’ the group. It just didn’t make much sense to have a random, unmentioned character come to the aid of the group for no better reason other than she really hates orcs. Then a little later, an innkeeper does pretty much the same thing but with ghouls. However, the innkeeper was much more understandable. I only bring this up because it just didn’t fit. I just didn’t understand it.
3) Cora. The character of Cora the halfling wasn’t really that compelling or interesting. It just felt like she was there and every once in a while she’d pop back up to remind you that she’s still there. This is the case for about two-thirds of the story, where she is just there. She does become more present towards the end, but she just didn’t really feel all that important. This is really the only main character that really had this problem. I just didn’t find her that interesting.

1) Characters. The other main characters really were great. They felt alive and were really likable. Each had a distinct personality and way of looking at things. Cadwan, the group’s leader, was what you expect out of a leader. He was pretty much to the point and had a sense of justice and honor about him. The everyday leader type. He wasn’t really remarkable, but he had a strong presence that you couldn’t ignore. Kyligan was the socially awkward one of the group. He didn’t really say much, but he really was one of the main focuses of the story. What really makes him interesting is his nightmares and sense of righteousness. Calien, the prince, was one of the best characters of the other solid ones. He comes off as the naïve, sheltered to the worlds horrors and it really was amazing to see how he handled himself throughout the trials the group faced. He really grew in the story. Darin, the groups emissary, was the another interesting character. Darin is a dwarf priest who pretty much talked for the group. The reason why he is interesting is what happens to him later in the story and you really feel bad and sorry for what he had to go through. Finally you have the most mysterious character of the group, Alazar. Not much is really said about him and it works perfectly fine. You know he is the magic user, but his background is really a mystery. You find out a little about him later, but for almost of the story, not much is said about him. His personality is really distinctive. While most of the group is noble-minded, he comes off as ‘cruel’ in a way. Not by actions, but with what he says. All in all, the characters are all really well written and really do make you like them.
2) Progression. I really do like how the story progresses. Usually stories skip a lot, with having the group leaving one town and suddenly appearing in the next one. Here, it happens once. The other times, you really follow the groups movements and how they get from point A to B. It’s different and really builds up the characters by showing them doing mundane things.
3) Ending. While, like always, I’m not going to give out the ending… I really enjoyed the last few chapters. The searching of the tower and the last battle were really done well. You wouldn’t think that searching a tower would be exciting but somehow William Kooiker makes it so. It was almost like playing the game Clue. The group is gather all this information and ‘loot’, which really builds up to the final fight. Speaking of which, the fight was wonderfully done. I will say, the fighting early on was a little lacking in some regards, but the final battle really makes up for it. It’s just done beautifully. There isn’t any other way to put it. It was just amazing.

Side Notes:
1) Second Book? A lot was left up in the air. Mostly having to do with Calien’s brother and what happens with the group. I really do believe that there need to be a sequel. It feels like I’m missing some closure.
2) Hetnar/ Geran Subplot. This subplot was just kind of forgotten, only to reemerge at the end. Yes, I know that the scene is really meant to be forgotten after a certain scene, but it just felt like it was drop for no reason.
3) Cover Art. I really liked the tower in the background with its simplicity and it still does look ominous. It’s a little dark with the colors but it works pretty well.

Overall: 4/5

Final Thoughts:
The story is really good. William Kooiker really does bring his characters to life. They are what really made this story. The plot was interesting. It was simple, but good in its simplicity. There wasn’t a need to had an overblown epic storyline. The only problem I had been that it was a little slow at times.

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