The Bounty Hunter
by Andrew Ireland
@Andrew Ireland

"You may call me Oracle. I am the matron of the temple."

High Fantasy may or may not spend a lot of time setting the scene and/or building the alternative world. This work dispenses with detailed exposition and plummets the reader directly into the action, dropping a word here or there to help flesh out a world containing dwarves, orcs, monsters, and doppelgangers. We follow the exploits of Clayton Doubtfeather, the bounty hunter of the book's title, as he subdues criminals and gets his pay. But magic of the supernatural sort starts to happen to him, and before very long he becomes embroiled in a plot to catch one of the most talented assassins in the kingdom, Sarina Starstrider. Clayton embarks on the quest for Sarina and is soon joined by a motley crew of kingdom outsiders and misfits. Their journey to the South is studded with adventure and conflict. Sarina turns out to be more than just a fugitive assassin, and Clayton finds himself close to the center of a cosmic battle between the forces of light and darkness.

Ireland has a sense of storytelling that is compelling. The pages turn fast, and his dialogue and scene descriptions do not get in the way of the plot progression. He does take time to develop a few characters, and it is delightful to witness his handling of the misfit orc and the dwarf who becomes his companion. That he can do so in relatively few words is a mark of talent. However, it is unfortunate that more than a few wrong or missing words get in the way. Better editing is needed. The author has too many treasures and a talent for sharing them for sloppiness to weigh him down.

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