The War of Powers – Robert E Vardeman & Victor Milan

Title: The War of Powers
Author: Robert E Vardeman & Victor Milan
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 1st March 1984
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Source: Private Collection

Buy the Book – Amazon

Blurb/Synopsis

It seemed like a routine delivery job.

Except that the parcel was a jug containing a genie called Erimines the Ethical, who knew the secret of immortality but was actually more interested in sex after being bottled up on his own for more than 1,400 years.

Except that the wizard to whom the package was addressed turned out to be dead on arrival – murdered – and Fost Longstrider, courier, looked likely to go the same way.

Just the start of a huge sprawling fantasy saga, studded with helter-skelter chases, beautiful bandits, floating sky cities, a super-intelligent war eagle, and demonic powers – an epic of high adventure and all-action imagination

Review

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

I picked up a copy of this book thanks to Lord Metal Man, who brought a physical copy for me for Christmas. Many thanks to LMM for the gift, even if it didn’t go down so well in the reading department!


I am normally a big fan of classic fantasy novels and I recall the school library having a copy of this book way back when I was an impressionable teenager. Sadly, I DNFed this book at 42% as I just couldn’t hack it anymore!

The War of Powers is a collection of the first three volumes of the series and from what I can gather the story is about raising Dark Gods, finding an ancient artifact that’ll grant immortality, and over-cliche sex tropes. There are two main characters, Fost Longstrider a courier, and Moriana, Princess of the Sky-City and heir to that particular realm. She attempts to rob him, they end up having sex, she deserts him and takes his stuff. Including the Bottled Spirit of Erimenes the Ethical; who holds the secret to eternal life.

A lot happens in the part of the book that I read – including combat on Sky-Eagles, Dark Rituals, more sex, violence, and generally one-dimensional characters with very little to make them interesting that makes the book duller than it has any right to be. Usually, in books like this, I can overlook the drudgery of character depth (Or lack thereof) and enjoy the world-building, however, most of this information is dumped on the reader in thick-paragraphs thinnly veiled as dialogue. I’m not a fan of into-dumps, they’re tedious to read and jarring to the flow of the story. And, surprise, surprise, Fost then went and had sex with the woman telling him the history of the Sky-City, so he clearly wasn’t all that interested…

If I’ve not made it plain already, there’s a lot of sex in this book. Considering I am a fan of the Gorean Saga, this isn’t something that normally bothers me but The War of Powers came across as less of a well considered story/world-setting and more of a trashy-adult-fantasy novel. Stuffed in the mere 42% of the book I read, there we’re all the cliches that edge into the mind of a young-adult/teenager that hasn’t actually had any eperiences themselves; rough and tumbles, rape (by an animated statue no less) and conversations about ‘Having sex with a hornbull (bullock).’ Most of these experiences talked about or observed by Erimenes the Ethical; a long dead spirit that has realised that his former life of abstinece was a terrible mistake that he tried to correct by encouraging those around him to do more and more dangerous or sordid things; this character was actually really annoying and hard to connect with, coming across as a petulant teenager rather than a 1400-year-old philosopher.

I think this book, in part, suffers from me not managing my expectations. These books were written in the 1980’s and story-telling has become a lot more sophisticated since these books saw publication. While there is action aplenty, it comes across as a poorly written D&D campaign; the heroes must travel somewhere, retrieve and/or encounter something and escape (have sex) then go onto the next encounter. While some stories can do this successfully, The War of Powers, gets boring pretty quickly; mostly because the characters that are taking the reader on the journey aren’t overly engaging. Fost, is the atypical hero, out for his own gains. Moriana is a simpering-wallflower thinnly veiled in some attempts at badassery. On top of this, they are flawless in appearance, there’s no other character they meet that aren’t instantly attracted to them. Thus, more sex.

Summary

To many objectionable elements to the book that hindered any enjoyment; flat, one dimensional characters, rape scenes and tedious action. Irritating, petulant teenagers, info-dumps and dreary world building. I doubt I’ll be trying to finish this book anytime soon, let alone reading the next one in the series!

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