Title: Warrior of the Altaii
Author: Robert Jordan
Source: Borrowed (library)
One Sentence Synopsis
A warrior and leader of the Altaii people is drawn into a conspiracy that threatens to destroy the Altaii and their way of life.
“I was beginning to tire of waiting for the lightning. If it was going to strike, let it strike.”
A long time, when I was first delving into epic fantasy, I picked up a book called The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. I soon found myself deeply entranced in the world that Jordan had created. I ate up The Eye of the World and found, to my absolutely delight, that it was just the first book in a series called The Wheel of Time. Full disclosure: though I loved the first several books in this series, I kind of petered out around book 10. The books had lost their shine, that magic that had first drawn me in. I just found myself growing bored. Still, I’ve been considering re-reading the series because I remember how it felt when I first discovered it. I remember how much I loved what Jordan was doing in his fantasy world.
That memory of my love for Jordan’s world-building is what caused me to snag this book at my local library. I was in to pick up some other books that I had on hold and noticed this book on display. I hadn’t heard anything about it coming out and I wasn’t even sure it was from the same Robert Jordan that I remembered. I checked out the description and was pleasantly surprised to find it was a book he wrote before The Wheel of Time series was ever put to paper. I was intrigued, to say the least! I took it home and dived in.
I promise I went into this book with an open mind, choosing to ignore how I had drifted from Jordan’s previous work, but I’m afraid I ran into the same issue: I was just bored. It started off alright. We meet Wulfgar, a chief among the Altaii people. The Altaii are raiding nomads who spent most of their time in the unforgiving Plains. The Plains are a hostile place where water is scarce and most everyone is a threat, but it becomes even more so when the water starts drying up. On top of that, a secret plot to destroy the Altaii comes to light and Wulfgar must figure out what he can do to save his people and his way of life.
It’s definitely an interesting premise, but it felt like it took FOREVER for anything significant to happen. And that is saying something as this is not a long book. The world-building was, as I expected, on point, but the plot and the pacing fell short. I will say, once we got to the action, I was hooked and desperate to know what would happen next. It just felt like such a slog to get there. And then it felt like the climax was dragged out for way too long. Again, this was a short book, but it honestly could have been shorter.
I think my main issue with this book is that it felt like it was focused more on letting the reader know that Wulfgar was a MAN and he was going to do MAN-THINGS while being extremely MANLY about it. Seriously, it’s like this book was practically oozing testosterone! I found myself not caring about what was happening because I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at Wulfgar’s latest feat of manliness. There was no real character development with Wulfgar and none of the side characters were fleshed out to be more than anything that foils to Wulfgar’s journey. It was just… dull and did a whole lot of nothing for me.
So why three stars? Well, because this book, though no masterpiece of fantasy, was at least entertaining. When we focused on the plot, I was intrigued. When we got to the action, it was fast-paced and attention grabbing. It was just all the in-between stuff and the lack of a character with depth that dragged it down.
Final thoughts: An entertaining standalone fantasy that could have done with more character development and less flexing.