Review: The Anvil of the World (The Anvil of the World Book 1 of 3)

The Anvil of the World - Kage Baker

I had mixed feelings about this book.  On the one hand the story was usually interesting, the characters were pretty unique, and the book made me chuckle quite a bit.  On the other hand, sometimes I thought the story dragged and sometimes it crossed slightly over the line from funny into ridiculous.

This is a fantasy set in a world in which three different species live.  You have the Children of the Sun, of which our main character is a member.  These are essentially humans, the most numerous species populating the world, and it seems like half of them are named “Smith”.  The book is written in the third person perspective, but we follow the main character the entire time.  Not surprisingly, the main character goes by the name of Smith.

Another species is the Yendri, who aren’t elves exactly, but they certainly have a lot of similarities with your typical fantasy elf.  The Children of the Sun and the Yendri do not get along well, and there is racist behavior on both sides.  The Children of the Sun’s behavior toward the Yendri shows some similarities with the way early American immigrants treated the Native Americans.  There is some overt social commentary in the book, such as the aforementioned Native American issues as well as pollution.  However, it was kept to a reasonable minimum so it didn’t really annoy me.

Lastly, there are the demons, not to be confused with demons as they're depicted in real-life Western religions.  These demons have some magical abilities and they aren’t particularly evil, although their personalities vary greatly so some are better than others.  One of them crosses paths with Smith, who unwittingly helps him out with a problem, which results in the demon constantly showing back up whenever he needs help with something.  This inevitably results in more troubles for Smith.  A demon was usually to blame when the story crossed over the line between funny and ridiculous.

This book actually felt more like three separate stories, each closely related and following right after the other chronologically, but with distinct plots.  However, there weren’t any indicators of this within the book.  Actually, there weren’t even any chapter breaks.  Perhaps this is unique to the e-book version I have.  I believe I downloaded it free from Tor several years ago when they were promoting their new-at-the-time newsletter.

The ending didn’t particularly thrill me.  It wasn’t horrible, but it was a little weird.  This book does stand very well on its own, though.  I was on the fence about whether or not I liked this book well enough that I wanted to read the next book in the series, which I understand is actually a prequel.  I had to read the synopsis and a few reviews to make up my mind, but I decided to give it a try.