Marc reviews ‘The Last Grand Master’ (Champion of the Gods 1) by Andrew Q. Gordon. The third edition of this book was published on April 14th, 2015 by DSP Publications and is about 370 pages long. The audiobook version of this book was published on September 1st, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press, was narrated by Joel Leslie and is about 13 hrs and 13 mins long.
Get your free e-copy of “The Last Grand Master: Champion of the Gods, Book One” HERE
Why I read this book: A while ago Andrew Q. Gordon and his publisher DSPP provided an amazing giveaway for our readers, when we set up a series spotlight. These kinds of things are always very difficult for us bloggers, because we see too many good looking books that we want and need to read. This was no exception. I love fantasy stories and the covers called to me. The blurbs were awesome as well and I snatched a free e-copy of book 1 (you can do that as well – link above ).
In a war that shook the earth, the six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, God of Evil. For 3,000 years, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity and Neldin’s evil was nearly forgotten.
But then Meglar, wizard-king of Zargon, unleashes the dark magic of the underworld and creates an army of creatures to carry out his master’s will. One by one, the sovereign realms fall as a new war between the gods threatens to engulf Nendor.
Leading the opposition to Meglar is Grand Master Farrell. Young and untried, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar – or it could destroy the world.
Farrell is joined by Nerti, queen of the unicorns, and Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen as Farrell’s mate. As Farrell and his new allies make plans to counter Neldin’s evil, Meglar forces their hand when he invades a neighboring kingdom. Rushing to help their ally, Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Cut off from help, Farrell attempts an untried spell that will either turn the tide or cost him and Miceral their lives.
Get your free e-copy HERE!
I was super excited to start this book. The blurb promises everything a fantasy lover could ever hope for. I love discovering new authors and stories and this series seemed very promising. I have to admit, though, that it was very difficult for me to get into this story at first. The pacing is super fast. It was like the author wanted to show me everything the story could offer and wanted to take me to ‘The good stuff’ right away to hook me. I can understand the urge to do that, given that some readers have missed out on amazing fantasy books, because they started so very slow that readers lost interest before they were hooked . While I think most fantasy readers are used to and love long books, some, especially those who check the book out primarily for the M/M Romance aspect, might not be.
For me it is very important to first get to know the MC and start to care for him and his journey, before the real action starts. I loved all the fantasy aspects and the magic and wonderful world building the author provided, but the MC was still a stranger to me, there seemed to be insta-love between him and his love interest (a relationship fated by the gods) and I just wasn’t hooked. So after the first big battle, another book caught my interest and this one was benched on my kindle for the time being. I knew I wanted to try again, because the world seemed really fun and had fantastic world building. Especially knowing that the book was the author’s very first book, I was certain that it deserved a second chance to hook me. It took me quite a while to do that, but when an audio version of the book was released, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to sink my teeth into the story again.
I’m really, really glad that I bought the audiobook and gave this story another shot!
I still really think the beginning of this book tried to do too much too fast, but once I actually got to know the characters, the story got a lot more interesting to me. I have to give props to Joel Leslie here. He is really an amazing narrator and helped to bring these characters to life with his great performance. I really think the narrations adds a new, wonderful layer to the story and I can highly recommend getting this book in audio format. However, the characters can stand on their own as well. After the setup where they are thrust into the first big battle and the reader learns a lot about the unicorns, wizards and other occupants of this universe, the story slows down enough for readers to really meet the characters.
And what a pleasure it was. The wizards are so wonderfully colorful that it brought the discworld novels to mind. The unicorns are regal and kickass. And best of all, though their love was decided upon by the gods and there was insta-attraction and seemingly insta-love as well, the MCs do struggle a bit with the idea of fated love. They just seem to click from the very beginning and know they fit together well, but it takes them a bit to trust their feelings and instincts, given how fast everything went. It seemed a realistic reaction that made everything more believable and relatable to me. Given that the romance between the MCs is an important focus of the book, I am very glad that with every page they convinced me more and more that they belonged together.
After the characters burrowed their way into my heart, I actually really enjoyed the faster pace of this book. There are many fun twists and turns as the author sets up an epic battle between good and evil. I love all the creative ideas about how magic works in this universe. I love that the main character is very strong, but not as strong as the bad guy and that he needs to make new friends and allies and learn new things to hopefully win against the evil force that wants to end him and all the characters readers will grow to like and love. It ended up being a very entertaining read. I never anticipated that I would have so much fun, when I decided to get the audiobook. I am now hooked and will wait for the next audiobook in this series to come out.
7.5/10 Pots of Gold (75% Recommended) – Compares to 3.75/5 Stars
Andrew currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his husband of twenty years, their young daughter and three dogs. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day and still fall asleep at night. You can find Andrew on-line at http://www.andrewqgordon.com.