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Devlin's Luck by Patricia Bray
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Devlin's Luck (2002)

by Patricia Bray

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259None44,599 (3.69)5
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ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

2.5 stars

Devlin is a tortured soul who wants to die, so he becomes the country's Chosen One because it pays a fortune (which he sends to his brother's widow) and he's sure to be killed soon. Sounds exciting, but don't bother putting on your blood pressure cuff because it wasn't.

Devlin's sure he's going to die during the initiation ceremony (boring), but, unfortunately, he doesn't. And so we accompany him on his journeys which read more like a book report than an adventure. Descriptions are dull, people are dull (though a few had such potential), fights are dull, monsters are dull. And the language is dull. For example, Devlin doesn't see things, he beholds them. He doesn't talk to people, he has speech with them. He doesn't put on clothes, he dons garments. And he doesn't go to bed, he seeks his quarters. Here is part of the most exciting scene of the first book, when Devlin is fighting a guy who is trying to kill sleeping travellers in an inn. Devlin has just managed to wake up one of the travellers (by shouting "Awake, awake," not "Get the hell out of the damn bed!"), so he says to the traveler (while he's holding off the killer with an axe):

"What are you called?" Devlin asked, never taking his eyes off his opponent.
"Dalkassar."
"Rise Dalkassar, and call to your companion. And arm yourself. This man tried to kill you."

Wow. Not even an exclamation mark. How am I supposed to get excited if Devlin isn't?

There are hardly any women in The Sword of Change series. I got half way through Devlin's Honor (second book) and never met the interesting-looking woman on the cover. And speaking of that cover: Devlin lost two fingers at the end of the first book, so what are they doing still attached? Perhaps I didn't read far enough.

Read more Patricia Bray reviews at Fantasy Literature ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
I read this fantasy book by chance, sitting in an office with nothing else available.
No one wants the job of being the Chosen One, because those chosen are known for getting killed so quickly. Devlin, a man who has tragically lost everything he cares about, signs up in hopes that his life will be ended with honor as opposed to committing suicide. However, the magical sword he carries senses his motives, and miraculously keeps him alive because of it. Forced to continue living, Devlin begins to appreciate life again. ( )
  joririchardson | Jan 25, 2010 |
An entertaining fantasy (3.5 stars) about a tortured man (much of it self inflicted) who takes up a position for the sake of paying a debt that only he, with his strict code of honor, really sees as his own. The position with the kingdom had been reduced to a joke, but he tries to turn it back into a position of high honor. The self-inflicted torture does NOT continue at the levels of Thomas Covenant, although it starts there. He's hurt bad at the start, but regains his balance as the book & trilogy progresses, so it's not a complete downer.An interesting theme is that he belongs to a recently subjugated nation & is seen as a traitor for working for the 'enemy', no matter how honorable his intentions & actions are. He's also a rural man who brings clean country values to the decadent city.One of the things that impressed me the most is the concept of travel in this empire. The author gets the issues with medieval roads, knows that horses aren't cars & what this means to lines of communications & supply. Money/economics seems pretty well done, too.This is a trilogy & I bought all 3 books & read them in a row. I'd highly recommend that to anyone else. There's no sense reading out of sequence or reading just this book. If you have any interest in it, you'll need to read all three. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Sep 25, 2009 |
Like many fantasy novels, this one follows a somewhat reluctant normal guy who is chosen by the gods to save the kingdom. What’s unusual is that Devlin, a former farmer and metalsmith, sought the post as a way of commiting suicide out of guilt over his families’ deaths. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for the kingdom), he keeps managing to survive.

The plot was a little too simple for my taste, with an unknown enemy who is too easy to guess (although it seemed reasonable for the characters not to figure it out, as they didn’t know they were in a novel). Whenever a new character appears, it’s pretty obvious whether they are going to be good or bad based on what the plot needs. Despite that, it wasn’t ever boring or slow, and it wasn’t quite clear how it all tied together. There are still some questions (and two sequels).

For the most part, the characters themselves are well-done, and didn’t fall too badly into fantasy cliches. (Exceptions being the king and the Duke, who were weak-willed and arrogant, respectively, and without particular reason.) Even Devlin’s depression seems reasonable and is not annoying.

The prose is at times a little lengthy for the content, reemphasizing what was already clear, and the beginning seemed a bit slow, but it picked up fairly quickly.

It’s the first of a trilogy, and I plan to pick up the other two, as well as her latest. Nice thing about being years behind in my reading is that by the time I start a trilogy, all the books are out.

This book belongs to my favorite subgenre of fantasy [1], and the one which I’ve been reading the least of lately, so reading it was like coming home after a long vacation - happy to have seen new sights, but glad to return to my own bed.

[1] Dunno how it’s defined. Pick some amalgam of epic, heroic, and sword & sorcery without lots of action. ( )
1 vote elizabeth_s | Aug 20, 2008 |
It makes me sad that so few people have read this book on Librarything. It is a very good fantasy novel. Lots of action, a good plot, and brave interesting characters. If you lots of action and adventure in your fantasy your sure to love this book. ( )
  Nikkles | Apr 17, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553584758, Mass Market Paperback)

The once mighty kingdom of Jorsk is in decline, its borders beset by enemies, both worldly and otherworldly. The king has retreated to the capital, abandoning the far-flung provinces. The only hope of the people lies in their Chosen One, blessed by the gods as defender of the realm. But of late every Chosen One has died, targeted by the harshest of the enemy attacks.

Only the most desperate of men now seek that post. Devlin Stonehand is a desperate man. Overwhelmed by grief at the death of his family, he has lost the will to live. But he has vowed to provide for his brother’s widow and children, and the post of the Chosen One carries with it a substantial reward.

For Devlin, a farmer and metalsmith, it is the answer to his prayers—prayers that include a yearning for the oblivion of death. After he has won the post, though, Devlin discovers that sometimes the hardest goal to achieve is that which had once seemed the simplest. For unlike the other Chosen Ones, he persists in surviving. Are the gods just tormenting him further, or does he have a greater destiny than he imagined? Can a man who courts death ever truly come to embrace life?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:13 -0400)

A man with serious survivor's guilt sets out to get himself killed--and instead manages to save a kingdom--in the kick-off of this stellar new fantasy series. The once mighty kingdom of Jorsk is in decline, its borders beset by enemies, both worldly and otherworldly. No Time to Die...The king has retreated to the capital, abandoning the far-flung provinces. The only hope of the people lies in their Chosen One, blessed by the gods as defender of the realm. But of late every Chosen One has died, targeted by the harshest of the enemy attacks. Only the most desperate of men now seek that post. Devlin Stonehand is a desperate man. Overwhelmed by grief at the death of his family, he has lost the will to live. But he has vowed to provide for his brother's widow and children, and the post of the Chosen One carries with it a substantial reward. For Devlin, a farmer and metalsmith, it is the answer to his prayers-prayers that include a yearning for the oblivion of death. After he has won the post, though, Devlin discovers that sometimes the hardest goal to achieve is that which had once seemed the simplest. For unlike the other Chosen Ones, he persists in surviving. Are the gods just tormenting him further, or does he have a greater destiny than he imagined? Can a man who courts death ever truly come to embrace life?… (more)

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