Drowning in Angst Flooded with Fantasy
DROWNING IN ANGST is the third in David J. Pedersen's fantasy series following the adventures of a man who always wanted to be a hero -- and then finally got his chance after turning 40.
Billed as "a midlife crisis in medieval times," the first ANGST novel told how Angst, a secret confidante to Princess Victoria and filing clerk to Queen Isabella, got saddled with the magic sword, Chryslaenor, a ridiculously large thing that most people assumed was a statue. But obtaining the sword was only the first step in the sprawling, epic story, as Angst learned that war was coming. And not just any war -- a war that would encompass humans, magic wielders (like himself), and all the races of Ehrde -- wrought by the machinations of the five elements -- Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Magic, themselves warring amongst each other.
In my review of BURIED IN ANGST, I made comparisons between Pedersen's writing style (and stamina) to that of the DRAGONLANCE duo Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, and that comparison holds true in this third novel, DROWNING IN ANGST. The immensity of the quest, the immaculate attention to detail, the convergence of so many different threads, all done with an ever-present sense of urgency and always a sense of humor are all there, bursting from the pages. That it never once overwhelms or exhausts the reader is a literary miracle, as these books clock in somewhere around the 400+ page range.
DROWNING IN ANGST finds Angst, Victoria, and his magic-wielder friends seeking out their lost companion, Rose, unaware that she has been taken over by one of the magical foci -- in fact, the same sword Angst bonded himself to in the first book. (Angst relinquished that bond when the adventure was over, and it nearly killed him; the second book had Angst seeking and finding another sword, Dulgirgraut, to save his life.) The problem is that the friends need to get to the island country Angoria, which means they have to cross water.
And Angst has already crossed Water. With a capital W. He doesn't realize why, but Water has vengeance in mind for the amiable hero, and has put into motion a plot to not just kill him, but destroy him utterly by taking from him the same thing he had taken from her.
While this goes on, Angst's homeland of Unsel is still living under the threat of the advancing giant sinkholes that threaten to submerge the land. And that's nothing compared to the treachery that has taken over the throne room while Victoria has been absent from the kingdom! Magic use has once more been made illegal in Unsel (having only been legal for a very, very brief time), and refugees are fleeing at a time when sensible people argue that Unsel needs their magic wielders the most to fight the coming danger.
Cosmic level threats, both overt and subversive, begin on the first page and carry you through an emotional roller coaster, until the last chapter levels off, calms down...
...and takes you right off the steepest cliff you've ever seen. I'm so very glad that BURNING WITH ANGST is already out and ready to pick up.
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