Becoming an adult in the modern world is easy by turning eighteen. There are no ceremonies to the process. In the fantasy realm of Oriosa, young people are given a moon mask and must pass a month of initiation into adulthood. Four young men face this in The Dark Glory War by Michael Stackpole, which changes their lives forever. Readers will find this book suspenseful from the characters, plot and themes.
The characters in the book help create suspense due to likability. Told in the first person point of view, readers are introduced to the main character of Tarrant Hawkins. He is a young man undergoing his month to adulthood. Tarrant is a loyal friend and level headed person that undergoes severe trials that change him. His closest friend is Leigh, the son of a noble. Leigh is flamboyant and brave, tempered by Tarrant’s friendship. A third friend is Nay, the calm, steady smith with quiet strength. Mr. Stackpole brings these characters to life in a timely fashion that gets readers to sympathize with them, which creates suspense through their experiences.
Next, the author creates a strong action plot full of suspense. Tarrant and his friends are taken out of the city for an initial trial. They end up in a fight for survival with a dangerous monster. This experience propels them into adulthood quickly by being included in a trip to the capital city to warn the queen of the monsters. On their journey they fight a desperate battle in the ruins of an ancient city where Tarrant meets the elf Resolute. From there, the young men find themselves quickly becoming warriors in the war against the evil empress Chytrine of Aurolan as she invades the realms of the south. The author weaves an engaging plot through tight, vivid descriptions that keeps readers turning pages.
Finally, the themes of the book create suspense because readers can relate to them. The characters must face their coming-of-age. In their society, they where masks at different stages of life. Every experience adds to the mask. Each character faces events that change them. Loyalty is another theme of the book. Tarrant, Leigh and Nay remain loyal to each other despite strains on their close friendships. Mr. Stackpole weaves these themes subtly into the book through the vivid incidents and characters’ reactions, which makes it have more tension.
The Dark Glory War by Michael Stackpole is an action packed novel full of suspense. Characters, plot and themes make the book suspenseful and ultimately entertaining. Mr. Stackpole is an excellent Fantasy author that uses his experiences to create books that keep readers hooked until the end. This book is a prequel to the Dragoncrown trilogy, which continues the story of some of the characters begun here.