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The Lost Keep of Kaywall by Charles Embrey Jr.

I just finished The Lost Keep of Kaywall which I picked up at GenCon. I will admit, I didn't care that much for the book, mainly because of the mechanical presentation of the story.

The story itself was creative and interesting. I found the latter half more interesting when they were dealing with the actual Lost Keep than the first part of the book which details the growth of Clovis, a young Paladin. The descriptions of the buildings, the various puzzles and fights, they kept my attention and I actually found myself wanting to read the end of the book.

The first half, on the other hand, wasn't that exciting for me. Clovis was too perfect. As a boy, he was everything. As he grew up, he met gods at second level, defeated dragons slightly higher up, was twice the fighter as men double his age and even braver than dwarves. His only flaw was girls, but that's understandable, he was only in his teens when this happen.

Well, there was one more thing. Clovis seemed a bit strange on the whole "Father" thing. I felt that he already had one, he didn't need to find a better, more "worthy" father, which is the impression both me and Fluffy got out of the book. It was just the wrong social dynamic in the story and it kind of bothered both of us.

The story is set in an interesting fantasy world. There are dragons, beasts that mean harm, and Orcs. Lots of Orcs. Orcs have capitals, along with Bard, Fighter, Druid, Cleric, Paladin, and "Son." The world follows Dungeons and Dragons mechanics pretty closely. I suspect it is first edition, because Bards use druidic magic, but they didn't listen to the obscene requirements (fighter and rouge) needed for that edition. Charles described the leveling process closely, with made it more... understandable to me, but it caused trouble with Fluffy since she doesn't really like RPG's that much and didn't care about what happens when you level.

The mechanical aspects were joined by a somewhat jumpy flow to the story. Scenes seemed to jump from point to point instead of flowing smoothly, but I felt that was more of (implied in the back) following the results of an adventure.

Overall, I liked the book. The first half annoyed me, too many perfects but the second part is where the flow of the story smoothed out somewhat, I got used to the Orcs and Paladins, and the story really started to get going. The last hundred pages, I would say, were a great story that just started off slow. Would I read it again? Probably not. I would read another of his to see if things smooth out, but if Clovis is there, I probably won't.