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The Edge of Chaos by Jak Koke

Posted by travizzt on January 6, 2010

A strip of land where the natural order is thrown into chaos, where many people go to receive a spellscar. Many of those people don’t return.

The Edge of Chaos
by Jak Koke- This is the third book in The Wilds series of stand-alone novels set in the Forgotten Realms universe. The first novel is The Fanged Crown by Jenna Helland, the second novel is The Restless Shore by James P. Davis, and Wrath of the Blue Lady by Mel Odom is the last. This is Jak Koke’s first foray into the Forgotten Realms, he as written other novels in different settings.

The story is about an elixir that could help prevent death from exposure to the Spellplague, a storm that caused magic to go wild and either kills things it touches or scars them, giving a person a unique power. We are then introduced to a monk named Slanya and a rogue named Duvan, who embark to recover some plaguegrass for the elixir to work. In order to recover the plaguegrass, the duo must travel into the Plaguewrought Lands, a place were the Spellplague is remarkably contained. It’s almost certain death. However, the elixir as drawn interest from parties that want it to be able to unleash the Spellplague again. Does the duo recover the plaguegrass, come out of the Plaguewrought Lands whole, and uncover the plot to release the Spellplague and stops it?

1) Cliché Main Characters. Slanya and Duvan are extremely cliché and it can get bothersome. Duvan is like any other rogue, a mysterious person who is bitter and cynical of everything. He doesn’t have many friends (actually he has none), likes to do things on his own, and is a little headstrong and bitter. Slanya wants to change this mysterious person (am I starting to sound like every movie made about a love story yet?). Then you realize that the two become in “love” (use love loosely). Seriously sounds like almost every love story doesn’t it? While these characters themselves are interesting and engaging, the clichéd premise of it does become really distracting and annoying.
2) Errors. I usually won’t put something like this in a negative spot, I’d just mention it. However, the book is really plagued (get it?) with editing overlooks and grammatical errors. I know I’m not the best at grammar, but when a comma is in place of a period and the next word is then capitalized, the sentence becomes drowned in confusion. But that’s not the worst part. The editing mistakes are just horrible. There was a sentence in which it reads something like, “change and make and.” Now at first glance, that doesn’t seem to be a problem. But then you realize that either “change” or “make” would work in the sentence. So then you come under the understanding that whomever added whichever word meant to take out the first word but forgot to take out the first word. Yes, my previous sentence could be a little hard to read, but that’s what it felt like. It was confusing and just lazy. This has to be the first book that the errors really bothered me. You have an editor for a reason right?
3) Predictable Ending. While the story up until the ending is wonderful and not all that predictable, the ending just gets bogged down in knowing what is going to happen. At least you don’t know what is going to happen until a certain person activates their spellscar, then you pretty much know how it’s going to end. Also, you can tell right away what someone is, if you pay attention. I’m not going to give who these people are away, but you can easily figure it out. Even though the ending is a tad bit predictable, the story nevertheless is still interesting.

1) Main Characters. While I did say that they were really cliché, the really were still engaging. Duvan’s past and what happen to him make him mysterious and interesting. His past is horrible and heartbreaking at the same time. You really do feel sorry for this character and what horrors he’d been through. Slanya’s struggle with control and chaos is interesting and well written. You can feel her hatred of disorder and her attitude about town life compared to her monastery home. Then you have the way she tries to help Duvan, you begin to see that she does want to be his friend. This aspect of the duo really seems to work. You can believe that they are friends. The end, to see the emotion between the characters about what happened was just beautiful and powerful, sad and heartbreaking.
2) Plot. The plot is interesting, yet basic. It’s basic because someone wants to destroy the world (of course!). What makes it different is that it doesn’t seem like it’s that way. The plot, for me, revolves around the two main characters and how their friendship can change things. But even the basic, everyday plot is engaging. The main characters don’t know that what they are doing is for evil purposes. They don’t find that out until later, instead you have pretty much the bulk of the story about these two people changing one another. It’s interesting and engaging.
3) Description. Wow. That’s all I can say. The Plaguewrought Land’s description is just breath-taking. Now I’ve read other story that involve plague changed land, but here it’s just so chaotic and it’s written in a way to make it feel and act chaotic. Honestly, at times you don’t know what is even happening, but that’s the point. When the duo enter the Plaguewrought Land everything changes so rapidly that it’s hard to follow at that you really can’t picture this amount of chaos. Now, it doesn’t seem to be sounding like this is a positive, but it is. I really felt so disoriented and confused that I, at times, felt what Slanya or Duvan would be feeling. It’s chaos at it’s best, and it’s written so chaos reigns supreme doing these scenes.

Side Notes:
1) Spellscars. It’s about time I find out what these this can do! I’ve read a few stories involving them, but nothing about them. But here I really understand what they are. And is it me or do they remind me a lot like superhero powers? Or an even better example, they remind me of the television show Heroes.
2) Tyrangal. Duvan’s employer (so to speak). Is she really trying to fool anyone? Seriously, from the moment you meet her, it becomes obvious what she is. It was absolutely no shock when you find out.
3) Cover Art. I like it. The other books I didn’t really care for (The Fanged Crown and The Restless Shore). Those didn’t really seem to have anything to do with the story or were every interesting. Here, however, the vortex that your eye is instantly drawn to actually appears in the story and the wilderness around it is really described like that within the story. Even the two people in the picture are Duvan and Slanya (except Duvan has black leather armor, not green). The only problem is that it’s too dark, way too dark.

Overall: 4/5
Final Thoughts:
While I don’t really have any major problems except that everything is so cliché, the characters are wonderful, the story is decent, and the descriptions are marvelously chaotic. While The Edge of Chaos isn’t the best stand-alone novel out there, it is the best one of the previous three (The Fanged Crown and The Restless Shore). I really liked the two main characters and I was heart-broken at the end.

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