I’d like to start this review by thanking Scott Robinson for the review copy of The Age of Heroes. This novel was different from your typical fantasy, and that’s a good thing. I have to wonder if the fact that the author is from Australia has something to do with that. The Australian authors I’ve read in the last year or so have been doing some things that I find refreshing and different from what I’ve seen from American and British authors.
Rawk is a hero, the greatest. He’s 55 years old, and he’s about to find out that it’s time to grow up. Over the course of a little more than a week, Rawk discovers that maybe being the greatest living hero isn’t such a good thing, especially if he wants to continue the living part.
His former fighting companion is now the prince of the kingdom in which Rawk lives and has outlawed magic of any form, whether that form is a practitioner or a magical creature. Rawk still feels the need to play the role he’s been playing all his adult life. He’s been successful at it so far, although it’s requiring more effort to live up to his reputation. Age is starting to catch up with him.
The magical creatures start showing up where they shouldn’t be. Rawk rises to the occasion. In addition to nearly getting himself killed more than once, he starts facing up to the consequences of his actions, namely that his actions can (and do) get other people killed.
He also has to face his prejudices, especially his prejudices against dwarves and old enemies.
There were times where the story seemed a bit slow, but some of that was my fatigue level at the time I was reading. There is plenty of action, but Rawk also engages in quite a bit of introspection, something easy to do when you’re recovering from injuries.
There are a few older protagonists in heroic fantasy. As someone who isn’t getting any younger, I would like to see more. I can relate to the aches and pains as well as the body not being what it used to be. I found Rawk’s character arc to be refreshing. Rawk learned quite a bit about himself throughout the course of the novel. He engaged in a number of heroic feats, but unlike many action heroes, he learned from them.
Robinson handled the fight scenes well, and there’s plenty to make the reader come back for the next volume. The magical creatures who show up are doing so for a reason, but we don’t know yet what that reason is.
There are also touches of humor. The dwarves have introduced indoor plumbing. Rawk’s transition to acceptance of a shower was a nice touch that added some lightness to what could have been a very gloomy story.
If you’re looking for something different and/or would like to read about an aging hero who is at the point where he needs to think before he hacks and slashes, then The Last Great Hero: The Age of Heroes might just be for you.
Like I said earlier, the Australians are doing some interesting things. I’ve got some more work by Australians in the queue, and I’m looking forward to getting to them.