I will always associate two series of books with my starting to write book reviews online. One is Ashok Banker's modern adaptation of The Ramayana and the other is The Eldarn Sequence by Robert Scott and the late Jay Gordon. Although the books are worlds apart, the impact they had on me was identical: "I must tell people about these books."
Ashok's books were already past the mid point when I caught up with Rama on his quest, but in the case of The Eldarn Sequence I came in at the beginning just after book one, The Hickory Staff, was published. I have followed it through the process of publication until now as it prepares to go to press with book three The Larion Senators I am able to be in on its completion as well.
As firsts go, first literary interview may not rank too high for some people, but my interview with Ashok will always be the first author interview I conducted and to this day remains one of my favourites. Robert Scott was my second author interview but his series represents two other firsts for me. Lessek's Key, book two of the series, is the first ever book to carry a quote from one of my reviews on its dust jacket, and will always be the first set of author's proofs I've ever read.
The final book of The Ramayana was released some time ago, and my review is gathering dust in many site's archives but my association with Ashok hasn't ended as I now edit his online publication for the international Arts & Culture Epic India Magazine. I don't know what my association with Robert Scott will constitute in the future, but I do know that my head is still reeling from the ride of reading The Larion Senators, and bringing that journey to its successful conclusion.
Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you how it ends, except to say that it doesn't end, it begins — but I do want to tell you what an excellent job was done in bringing the story to it's conclusion. Robert and Jay have left us with a pretty nasty cliff-hanger at the end of book two (if you haven't read that – don't worry, I won't even give that away) and the challenge as far as I could see was going to be creating a plausible way out of it. Even with 550 plus pages, I thought they'd be hard pressed to accomplish that and stitch together all the loose ends that have been left dangling since book one.
When you write fantasy or other sorts of speculative fiction you are able to define the rules your world abides by, thus allowing your characters to accomplish certain feats that they wouldn't be able to if they were living in our reality. However, you are bound to abide by your own rules and not take any short cuts to solve your dilemmas. You are as much a prisoner of the world you have created as your characters
All the way through the first two books, Robert and Jay were scrupulous in making sure that the characters kept to the limits of their abilities. While Steven Taylor learned how to control the magic he discovered was his in Eldarn, and began to understand just how powerful he could be, nothing he did was outside the realm of possible as far his character was concerned.
It's wonderful to see that adhered to faithfully right through to the end of the books. There is precedent for everything that occurs and nothing is pulled out of a hat in order to save the day in that final moment when all seems lost… at no matter what point it occurs in the story. But, it's that sort of attention to detail that has distinguished this series from the start.
Where it really comes through is in the characterization and the development of the relationships between the characters as the story progresses. Whether it's sexual tension between Hannah and Hoyt after their prolonged time together in emotionally trying situations, Garec's struggles with his conscience about his ability as a killer, or Gilmour desperately trying to find out just what his role will be in the final confrontation, each process is organic and has the ring of authenticity to it.
When The Hickory Staff was published in 2005 there were two living authors, and before Jay Gordon succumbed to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gerig's disease in November of that year, Lessek's Key had been handed over to the publishers. With The Larion Senators though Robert was left with only the notes that Jay had prepared as an outline and his own awareness of the story. In spite of previously only dealing with specific characters and aspects of the plot, he managed to seamlessly integrate everything and everybody without there being any noticeable difference in style and voice from the previous books.
It seems that a trilogy is only as good as its third book. The first two books could be brilliant, but if book three is anti-climatic, nobody will remember them. While each book of The Eldarn Sequence up to now has been well written and exciting, somehow Robert has managed to hold something in reserve for The Larion Senators and the tension level and excitement are raised another notch all the way through. It not only lives up to the expectations for a finale, it exceeds them by a long shot.
When Jay Gordon was diagnosed with ALS in 2002, he and his son-in-law Robert Scott set out on their quest to write the type of fantasy trilogy that Jay had loved to read. With The Larion Senators about to be released not only will that journey have been completed successfully, it will be done in spectacular fashion.