The Eagle’s Flight by Daniel E. Olesen

About the Novel

Peace in the Seven Realms of Adalmearc is only as strong as those who rule them. With the death of the high king and his heir too young to assume the throne, political intrigues fill the landscape as the leading noble families scheme and plot their way to power. Meanwhile, enemies abroad sense the changes and make their own preparations.


At first glance, this seems like your generic low-fantasy, medieval warfare kinda book. It isn’t. A lot of the tropes are there, but they are explored from an entirely unique perspective. I know that a lot of people are sick of “Norse-inspired fantasy”, but as Daniel is fond of saying, he has the roots and the research to make it more than just a gimmick.

I was continually astounded at how historically accurate this was for a fiction novel. Almost every word used is the historically correct terminology, and there are countless allusions to historic battles, figures, and countries. The Eagle’s Flight is accurate to the point of anal retentiveness. Even the battles aren’t “Hollywood”, they are most like intricate chess games.

The best thing about the book though? It’s FREE! The author is idiotic kind enough to offer The Eagle’s Flight for a free download on his website: annalsofadal.net.


Plot

As you may have guessed from the blurb, a large part of the story revolves around the fact that the young king of Adalmearc is too young to actually rule. In his place, a Lord Protector will rule until he comes of age – for approximately ten years. As a result, the houses of Adalmearc scheme, plot, and backstab for a chance at seizing power, and moulding the realm in their own image. This leads to many confrontations, and many battles.

The Order of Adal also plays a key part in the story. The Order exists to protect the alliance of Adalmearc from threats from inside and out. But what happens when the Order is preoccupied with an attack from outside of the realm?

This book has political intrigue galore – not as flashy as the likes of A Song of Ice and Fire, but somehow more realistic. There are numerous warring factions, all trying to seize power for themselves. There are puppet masters, puppets, scapegoats, famous warriors, invincible commanders, and more. If you like to read about courtroom wars and battles of wit… This is the book for you.

Plot Score: 4/5


Prose

The writing style works as a vehicle for delivering the world and its story to the reader. It suits the story, helps to the set the scene, and allows what I believe to be the author’s real strengths – Plot and Setting – to flourish. If you’re looking for purple prose, flowery descriptions, or any type of quotebait, you might be disappointed. This is not to say that the prose is bad by any means, just that it is far from the star of this show.

Prose Score: 3/5


Character

It’s interesting to consider the characters of this book. There are many of them, each with a distinct personality, and each of them an individual. Some are likable, some are not, but they all feel like people.

The reason I say that it is interesting to consider the characters, is that the author takes a somewhat unorthodox approach to characterisation. For the duration of the story, there is a layer of detachment between the reader and the characters. This means that the there are no real “protagonists” or “antagonists”. The author allows you to decide who you wish to root for, and doesn’t really steer you towards any character in particular. It’s almost as though you’re reading a history, and you get to decide for yourself who were the good guys, and who were the bad.

I’m still unsure how I feel about this, personally. On one hand, it’s a very interesting and almost unique approach, which led to a very and interesting and unique reading experience. On the other hand, I’m a complete character whore, and I would have loved to get into the heads of the characters a bit more. But this is not that kind of story.

Character Score: 3.75/5


Setting

Now this is the star of the show. If I’m a character whore, then Daniel E. Olesen is a complete setting slut. This world is one of the most detailed I’ve ever seen. It’s not as vast as Malazan, and it doesn’t have the history of Middle Earth, but what it does have is detail.

Seriously, almost every aspect of the world is nailed down. Each region has its own religion. Each city has its own districts. Each house has its resources. There are historical alliances, trade routes, languages, everything. Adalmearc even has its own bloody calendar. It’s so intricate, and it’s obvious that a lot of love and passion has went into this world. Just look at this gorgeous map. Yes, the setting is largely inspired by Western Europe, and yes, you might think you’ve seen all that before. But this is all of that, and more.

If there’s one criticism to make of the setting, it’s that it overshadows the rest of the book in some cases. There are many passages describing culture, history, city layouts, and the like. This strengthens the setting, but maybe the plot and characters took a hit as a result.

Setting Score: 5/5


Summary

This is a hell of a novel. One that won’t be for everyone, but will be adored by the right readers. A historically-accurate fantasy fiction, with characters that seem like real people, in a setting that has been constructed brick by loving brick. If you’re looking for a book with some serious political intrigue, or an insanely detailed world, this is the book for you. If you’re a Norse history buff, then this is the book for you.

One thing that doesn’t get much of a representation in this book though, is magic. It’s there, definitely, but only fleetingly, with only a few of those 1100+ pages dedicated to it. There will be a second book though, and it’s possible that we’ll see more magic in later volumes.

Daniel E. Olesen is also a fairly active member of the /r/fantasy community, under the username /u/Tanniel, so if you have any really complicated questions, direct them to him.

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