The Last Giant: Transgression, vol. 1
by J. R. Hardesty
Golden Cocker Press

"For the first time, Lee realized just how dangerous a Giant might be, even a small one."

Menannon, a young giant, has already lived a life that could be considered strange even in the context of the mythical world full of magic and beasts that he resides in. Exiled from his homeland at a young age because he was not taught to withhold his emotions like the other giants, Menannon and his father Gorlanndon left and assimilated with the other races of the land, settling on the island nation of Kalyria. Menannon leaves his father to go train in the Harper's Guild, the first of his people ever to do so, and is able to excel in almost all of the trades taught there except healing. He and his friends are graduating from the Guild, and his teacher insists that Menannon return home and relax for several months. But while things come easily for Menannon at the Guild, he worries about how his father will react upon his return. Feeling judged for his relatively short stature all of his life, Menannon is ashamed to see his father as he has grown to a mere nine feet tall, considered almost miniature by giant standards. Still, he is excited to return to Kalyria with his friend Lee in tow, eager to show him the sights and also spend some time with his childhood playmate and boyhood crush, Princess Nirna. What should be a joyful reunion for Menannon and Gorlanndon has a dark pallor cast over it, as an evil presence is growing in strength and preparing to cast the whole land in shadow.

Following in the tradition of rich literary fantasy, this book dedicates as much time to acquainting the reader with the world in which it takes place as it does the main characters of the story. Not unlike The Lord of the Rings, this story takes its time getting to its destination, giving the audience plenty of information about the setting before unraveling it and introducing the conflict and action that accelerates in the second half. The scope of the story is massive and immersive, hooking readers early and intriguing them throughout the whole story, while laying the important groundwork for what is planned to be an expansive saga spanning fifteen volumes. Menannon is immediately likeable, which is not an easy task for a character that excels at nearly everything he applies himself to, but his level-headedness and calm, kind demeanor make him an instant favorite.

Other characters each bring their own perspective and opinion as well, adding a dose of humanity, or elven-ness as the case may be, to the cast of characters, giving Menannon's even keel and tendency toward neutrality something to interact with. Like the characters themselves, each region of the world that they hail from carries with it a different dialect or customs, and so it is a very simple thing for the audience to be transported along on the entire adventure, identifying almost immediately a person's background or racial heritage as they begin to speak and introduce themselves to the reader. It may take an already existing interest in high fantasy to grab readers, but this book carries the tradition on beautifully and sets the stage for a powerful epic saga offering plenty of adventure and excitement to those with the imagination to travel along with Menannon and his friends.

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