Dark Fate: The Gathering (Dark Fate #1)
By Matt Howerter & Jon Reinke
Publisher: Idea Forge Publishing
An arranged marriage.
A lost heir to the dwarven throne.
An ancient undead seeks to manipulate four unlikely heroes.
Princess Sloane is to become a queen. Her marriage will unite the last two human kingdoms of Orundal. As it is not a marriage of choice but of necessity, she struggles with the responsibility laid before her, not knowing that the sacrifice she makes for her homeland will be but the first that she must endure.
Her twin sister, Princess Sacha, has been called from her studies at the Monastery to support Sloane in her time of need. Sacha has begun to learn the ways of the arcane and deals with her own troubles concerning the loss of a family that has been taken from her.
The sisters will not face their fates alone as Erik and Kinsey, steadfast companions, become their guides.
Erik seeks only solace for himself and his adopted son, but soon learns that such a wish is impossible to attain as the events around them unfold.
Kinsey, orphaned at birth, wrestles with his newfound rage not realizing that its cause is tied to his unknown heritage.
A tale of adventure filled with dwarves and elves, men and mages, were-beasts and the undead who clash together in a conflict so vast it will consume them all. These four troubled souls will become champions in the struggle for survival, as dark forces gather to destroy them.
I was approached by the author regarding Dark fate: The Gathering and ironically enough had already downloaded the ebook. It was on my radar and just a matter of finding the time. Squeezing in a 400+ page book for myself when I have been struggling to make my way through prior obligations can be tricky. So admittedly, this took some time to read. None the less, this was more of a venture back into my favorite genre of adult fantasy, so things started off well. How did they fair? Let’s break it down.
There is a lot happening within the pages of Dark Fate. We have two twin princesses that occupy a large portion of this story, Sloane and Sacha. Sloane’s hand has been promised in a marriage that is intended to unify the last two human kingdoms, and her sister Sacha has been sent away and isolated as punishment to study arcane magic (not revealing everything here). The princesses are reunited as they travel to meet Sloane’s soon to be husband and prepare for a wedding.
However, as most stories would have it, a series of events begin to unfold that prevent this from being a simple journey and Sacha is kidnapped.It is now up to their traveling companions Eric an elf, and his adopted, half dwarven son Kinsey to set matters right. But there is more to Kinsey’s elusive heritage than he could ever imagine.
As most well written fantasy has shown us, a good story if full of complexity and ever-changing and surprising plots. Dark Fate follows suite in reminding us that there is always more happening beneath the surface that what is originally implied. Nothing is as it originally seems.
Unfortunately, therein lied the success and minor disappointments for me. The story started off strong with a considerable intro, but then as the story unfolded, it began to feel like there was just too much occurring at once. At 50% the struggle began and it was real. Being no stranger to lengthy fantasy (GRRM and Tolkien) I was finding it difficult to move forward. The tale was taking multiple detours and feeling more sporadic by each chapter.
While the story was appreciable, it was as if I were reading several books at once. The reading experience felt awkward. It was taking me too long to complete (all outside factors aside), and I began to wonder why this first book was not divided into two possibly. This would have allowed for more depth in certain areas that felt lacking, and resulted in less “clutter”. I was experiencing a fantastic story with an odd execution that was preventing me from fully appreciating something of great potential.
This is fantasy. It goes without saying that we have a large array of characters. We have the princesses Sloane and Sacha. We are introduced to Eric our elf (man I do love those elves, give my some Drizzt Do’urden any day) and his adopted human/dwarven son Kinsey who are seemingly the primary focus of this first book. They are well written and come packed with enough depth and background to maintain the readers engagement. I was easily invested in each one, favoring Eric and Kinsey. The provided back stories and surrounded mystery play out very well.
Our side characters are not without their own strengths and intrigue. There is quite a bit of betrayal and mystery occurring within Dark Fate that has been effectively developed through an entire ensemble of well established and built characters. Each successfully solicits emotions of empathy, anger and intrigue as we discover more and the story progresses.
If I were to rate Dark Fate on character building alone, it would be a very close 5 ⭐
As any fan of fantasy knows, you must have solid world construction, or it just is not going to work. Fantasy does not exist without the appropriate wourld building. Dark Fate creates a realm that is vivid and expansive. There are no boundaries within Orundal. The lands and settings described easily conjure up images of a world that is cohesive with the story and adds additional depth and support to the plot. The infrastructure fits very well into the described societies. The elements of magic, and fantastical beings such as hobgoblins and orcs provide a welcoming atmosphere for fans of this genre and are an appreciated contribution.
I admit that when I discovered two authors listed on Goodreads, I was hesitant. There were many concerns that came to mind, but I was presently surprised with just how cohesive the actual writing was. I am not sure how the authors collaborated with this title, but there was never at any point an apparent “change” of hands. Told through alternating point of views, the pace was steady. The writing was comprehensible and to the point, while providing the right amount of detail, easily painting a solid image of the setting and events . My biggest struggle would be the transition between these events. Each chapter alone, was fluid. However, transitioning and timing felt off. Again, it just felt like too much was being crammed into the first story and the execution did not play out as well as intended.
Dark Fate: The Gathering is a fantasy novel that aims high, delivering a collection fierce characters with promising protagonists and antagonist alike. The world construction is on par with the appealing, mysterious and promising story. I am giving 3.5 stars due to my struggles with the narration that did not always segue smoothly and the unnecessary “over” complexity at times. I feel this is the sort of fantasy book that will truly be an individualized experience. A true case of what works for one may not work for others, but not to passed up on first glance. I feel that there is a strong audience for Dark Fate, and many may actually find great appreciation in the intricacy of this story. I will most likely follow up with this series at a later time, as I would love to learn more of Kinsey.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2
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