Beyond the Pale
The Last Rune: Book One
Includes bisexual and gay male protagonists.
Mysteries are hiding in the mountains of Colorado: a portal to another world, sinister creatures stalking the night, and the cryptic portents of a stranger who may or may not be human. Travis Wilder and Grace Beckett have never met, but their fates are joined when they both stumble into the medieval land of Eldh and find themselves swept up in its twin dangers of magic and intrigue.
It's been way too long since I enjoyed an adventure fantasy novel as fun as this one. How often have you read an entire book with a smile on your face? I loved the characters encountered in Eldh and the main protagonists, Grace and Travis, were especially appealing. Some of their interactions were predictable, but for the most part they were well developed—sometimes surprisingly so—and even entertaining at times. I even enjoyed the song lyrics sung by the bard Falken: I've listened to enough filk to be able to instantly put them in a melody and hear them in my head.
There are definite flaws in the book, from clichés and derivative cherry-picking, to simplistic narrative passages and overly complicated politics, but those were minor points for me. The author's enthusiasm and obvious love of the genre more than make up for it. How can you resist its appeal when Grace compares medieval confections to the filling inside an Oreo cookie? I indulged myself and had a blast!
The story sometimes treads dangerously close to the borderline between trite and entertaining, but in the end its bright, vulnerable, engaging characters won the day. If I'd known the book was going to be this good I would have gobbled it up years ago. I can only hope the rest of the series is this satisfying.
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