This is a good example of a series enjoyable enough to read, but not enough for a second time through. Still, the world itself that it takes place in is perhaps one of the best aspects. There is a lot of what I consider ‘human’ writing in the story as well. Dave Duncan’s series are all easy reads, but I would argue that this work is a clear third place at best compared to the ‘A Man of His Word’ series.
Here’s the general plot, man on earth, dies, gets reincarnated in the body of the strongest swordsman in a low to nil magic world. He gets a mission from the goddess which promises to reward him with all he may ever desire. During the opening he’s assigned a slave girl that he ends up loving, acquires a promising warrior who may be stronger than his new body could ever be, then lusts after a very strong female that is trying to convince him abandon the helpless (and relatively weak in this cut throat world) slave girl. Meanwhile he’s going on a journey along a river, working with other countries, fighting their warriors, and trying to maintain his morality from before being transported to this world.
Here’s the thing – some of the scenes depicted as all these plot points interact are absolutely heart stopping. We see the main character dealing with jealousy at being replaced as the best in the land, desire for a woman so strong he would betray the one who has been at his side since coming to this world, and the drive to murder those who stand in his way. There were moments where I went ‘no, please don’t, oh god you did, why? Why!’ and then kept reading anyway because I had to know how it turned out. The important part is – regardless of how cringe worthy the decision being made – everything felt as if we were watching a person learn hardcore life lessons. That’s amazing simply for the guts to follow such scenes through and teach the main character.
I found this aspect refreshing. Out of all the stories I’ve read, most teach life lessons by having something ‘happen to the main character’ or ‘make a choice that seems like his only one and praying it will work out’. In this story, we see the main character chose poorly while knowing he’s going to be doing wrong and going against his nature because of desire. Part of this has to do with the lingering ego of the person he is reincarnated as (number one warrior of the world!) – but that’s barely a justification. Still, and here’s the point I’m circling around repeatedly, people in real life are constantly faced with the either or type choices, and they make the ‘wrong one’ despite knowing otherwise. It’s just rarely explored as well in fiction.
As the story goes on everything ends on a very positive note. Most plot points were wrapped up, and aside from the heart pounding (and don’t forget, realistic) choices it was an easy / enjoyable read. The biggest downside is the wonky price points per book. This fiction is better for people with the Kindle Unlimited program looking for a ‘reincarnation, over powered character, which has to make real life choices with consequences’ style story.