Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Druids Bane Druid's Bane
by Phillip Henderson
Acclaimed Books

Supplied for review by Acclaimed Books

Reviewed By: Mel Duncan

This book was handed to me with the not-terribly-reassuring comment of "I'll buy you chips if you review this one." My hopes were not up. But I was pleasantly surprised. Druid's Bane is the tale of Danielle, only daughter of the king of Illandia, and her fight against her twin brother Kane, sexism, and her own bad temper. Oh, yeah, there's a conspiracy of evil in there somewhere too. Possibly two.

Danielle is the titular Druid's Bane, but as of the end of Book One, there is very little Druidic action in the Arkaelyon Chronicles. Instead, Danielle is busy with a tournament, stopping her brother's dastardly political aims and struggling to gain privileges her brothers all have. Which she then promptly abuses because she's headstrong and has no real grasp of diplomacy. Of course she's a bleeding heart liberal reformist with a temper that gets away from her, because she's the heroine in a fantasy novel. Of course she chafes at being restricted by her gender, because she's the heroine in a generic medieval setting. Danielle is likeable, but I'm not sure she's really interesting or new enough to carry a Chronicle.

So why was I pleasantly surprised by Druid's Bane? It wasn't that it was exceptionally well put together, because it needed more editing – typos and incorrect homonyms really aren't good enough, especially on the back-cover blurb. It also suffered from info-dumping, excessive capitalisation and words with too many vowels.

It wasn't the rest of the cast either, or the setting. Illandia could be anywhere, it's inhabitants could be anyone. The international politics were too complex to ignore but too poorly explained to follow. There's a prophecy, and it's about the central twins, and there's no real geography, and a city in the middle of a lake in the middle of mountains, for goodness sake.

So why did I finish this book in one sitting? Why, despite all indications to the contrary, did I enjoy Druid's Bane? Nothing in "Druid's Bane" is bad enough to declare it a "bad book". I guess that, despite it's faults, it's an enjoyable, solid, interesting fantasy tale. It ticks all of the boxes on all of the lists. So put it on the pile for "I can't deal with a real book" afternoons, and enjoy the literary equivalent of a Hollywood film.

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