I was introduced to the world of Dungeons & Dragons when I was in 8th grade, and I have been a HUGE fan of fantasy ever since. I’m not sure what it is that draws me, but I can tell you that the diversity of races and creatures is a large part of it. However, even back then, there were a few species of creatures within the D&D world that made me wonder why they were even there. Gnomes are a perfect example of this: to me, they are basically dwarves with a penchant for inventing. Author Kenny Soward turns this stereotype on its ear with ROUGH MAGIC, the first book of the GnomeSaga. Soward gives us a vastly entertaining tale and shows us that gnomes are much more than we perceive them to be.
If you are not familiar with ROUGH MAGIC, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Amazon:
Niksabella the gnome has tinkered in the shadows for years, developing an invention that might change the world, even if she doesn’t know it yet. She has few friends and even fewer allies in the city of Hightower, where social and academic status is quite important. Her brother, Nikselpik, is a cantankerous wizard who drinks too much, sings dirty songs, and makes rude passes at gnomestresses. A dark addiction consumes him, a habit called bugging, which gives him increased power and feelings of euphoria while pushing him closer to death. Dark creatures from the ultraworlds have come calling. Niksabella must fight to protect her life and her invention, while Nikselpik engages the enemy as an unlikely guest of Hightower’s military elite. Niksabella and Nikselpik must find their true powers together, or perish apart. Will they heal the wounds of their childhood before it’s too late?
The quality of self-published work that I’ve been running across lately continues to impress me. The writing, the editing, the cover art…it all screams ‘professional grade’. This is a huge testament to the authors for the amount of time and effort they are putting into their work. ROUGH MAGIC is a prime example of this.
This book is written very well and has a nice flow to it. The author’s writing style is simple and no-nonsense. He does a great job of describing without overwhelming the reader. There are many fantasy authors out there that put painstaking detail into their books and, while this is commendable, it sometimes bogs down the story. That’s definitely not the case here.
The characters in ROUGH MAGIC are fleshed out well and the world-building is top notch, although I hope the future volumes give us a glimpse of the world outside of Hightower. The action is intense and the magic is unique. There’s really not much more you could ask for in a fantasy novel.
The way the gnomes are portrayed in this book, however, is what wins the gold medal for me. Whereas many fantasy novels portray these beings as aloof and goofy, Soward takes a different approach and makes them, well, bad-ass. I commend him for his different perspective and can’t wait to see where the story goes in future books.
ROUGH MAGIC is an excellent addition to the genre, and I highly recommend it. The book is available now in a variety of formats, so give it a look for sure.