Title: The Lascar’s Dagger
Author: Glenda Larke
Series: the Forsaken Lands #1
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Rating: 5/5 stars
The Overview: Saker appears to be a simple priest, but in truth he’s a spy for the head of his faith. Wounded in the line of duty by a Lascar sailor’s blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility it brings, Saker can only follow its lead. The dagger puts Saker on a journey to distant shores, on a path that will reveal terrible secrets about the empire, about the people he serves, and destroy the life he knows. The Lascar’s dagger demands a price, and that price will be paid in blood.
I want to start out by saying how much I love Glenda Larke. She has the best world building of any fantasy writer I’ve ever read and it only seems to get stronger with each book. She’s taken me from stone cities to tropical islands to port cities to desert oases – basically anywhere that sounds interesting and exotic. If that weren’t awesome enough, she also tells her stories beautifully, creates complex an interesting characters, and provides epic adventures. In short, she is amazing.
When I talk about the world building, I’m not just talking about the setting, but rather something that is more all-encompassing. Larke weaves together multiple nations with their different cultural and religious backgrounds so seamlessly you’d think she was pulling information straight out of a history book. It’s just so thorough… it blows my mind. The depth of her world creations is astounding, but even more so is the way the cultures in her novels evolve as they start interact with one another. And another thing, they’re always so darn original. There are elements that have certainly been done before, but never as vibrant and evoking as when Larke does them.
While the worlds alone are reason enough to pick up Larke’s books, her characterization is just as strong. It’s not just that they’re interesting and well rounded, but that they always seem to have compelling conflicts. The trials they face, whether internal or external, are always an integral part of the stories – and done so well that I become immediately invested. In The Lascar’s Dagger, several POVs contributed to the overall arc of the story, and I found myself hard-pressed to decide which perspective I enjoyed following more. They all had different motives driving their actions, but somehow managed to get me feeling their successes and failures as if they were my own. I think the character that I felt the biggest connection to was Sorrel. Without giving too much away, let’s suffice to say that I found her perseverance inspiring and am most excited to see where her her courage and resilience take her in the next novel – there is so much more to her than meets the eye.
In case you didn’t get the memo from my highly praising review, Larke is one of the best fantasy authors I’ve ever read. My only disappointment is that she dwells on a different continent, so I’ll probably never have the chance to meet her. She has a lifelong fan in me, and I vowed long ago to pick up anything she writes the day it comes out (imagine how tickled I was to get access to an early copy of this novel – thank you, Netgalley!).
Recommended Reading: if you are a fan of high fantasy and have not yet read any of Larke’s books, you are sorely missing out! I recommend The Last Stormlord the most, but my true love is The Isles of Glory trilogy.
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