If we take it at face value Hero seems like a simple run of the mill Tolkien-esq novel of grand adventure. It’s pages are filled with larger than like villains and a small unknown hero who is tasked with nothing short of saving the entire world. Sound’s familiar doesn’t it?
Unlike Frodo though the 16 year old Elf Saberen is a powerful central figure who proves that he is more than capable of holding his own against the rapidly encroaching darkness.
While Tolkein built a vast network of supporting characters in everyone’s favourite fellowship, Ben Smith forgoes this in favour of focusing on just two primary travellers. While this works exceedingly well at the beginning of the story it does begin to feel flimsy and strained towards the latter portion of the novel.
That being said though Hero is a well-crafted and very enjoyable read that can’t fail to entertain. I took the book on holiday with me and I devoured the entire book from cover to cover in just over a day. I promptly passed it around my family and they each enjoyed it just as much as I did. Even my girlfriend who has a past with disliking fantasy books begrudgingly admitted a passing enjoyment of Hero, and that’s a bigger compliment than I could ever hope to give. If your novel is enjoyed by so many people with so many different tastes you know you have a good book.
My favourite aspect of Hero, comes not from its sweeping vistas of imaginative mountains or the epic adventure that sees Saberen pulled roughly from his comfortable life and thrust into a quest for the good of the entire world. No. For me the greatest aspect of this novel are the similarities of my adventures in the fictional worlds created by The Elder Scrolls Series.
Climbing a narrow path up a mountain to the mysterious cave at the top and the sudden, often heart pounding, appearances of various monsters and wild animals are paralleled almost seamlessly with Saberen’s adventures across Havaen. Hero is without a doubt one of the best Fantasy novels I have read recently. It is exciting, beautiful and all around bloody marvellous.
It is already back on my shelf waiting for me to get a few spare hours for me to re-join Saberen on his journey.