Fantasy tales, with all of their adventure and excitement, can sometimes be a chore to read. Authors often take the majority of a book to introduce the worlds and its ways, creatures, and conflicts, and while this often leaves the reader with a richer sense of the world in which the story takes place, it is accompanied with a distinct lack of action. Even what could be considered one of the greatest fantasy novels ever written, The Lord of the Rings, has a first book that could be said to contain little more than exposition and walking. This is not necessarily a fault of fantasy novels, but finding a lively, adventurous fantasy novel is always a pleasant diversion from more complicated fantasy stories. The Rainblade is such a novel.
In The Rainblade, David Jones exhibits a startling lack of exposition: less than ten pages in, the protagonist Kade Hollander finds the eponymous Rainblade, and within thirty pages is well on his way to beginning the quest that will define the novel. The novel actually takes place over the course of only a few days, as Kade fights for his life against a grave illness and mysterious forces. This quick pacing makes for lively encounters, and with a length of barely more than three hundred pages, the story is both easily digestible and easily read. I finished The Rainblade over the course of a few days, but anyone with a few hours to spare could finish the novel in one sitting.
Don’t let The Rainblade’s length and pace fool you, however – it’s a read with a powerful punch. Over the days I read The Rainblade and even the days after, I found myself mulling over the story in idle moments. What would become of Kade, the Rainblade, and the rest of the host of colorful, interesting characters that Jones built throughout the novel? The Rainblade packs a heaping dose of fantasy elements into a small package, together with humor and battles enough to entertain any fantasy lover.
Kade is a fascinating protagonist. Readers first meet Kade as a solitary, out-of-shape drunkard with a muddled past that once included wielding a sword in preparation for knighthood, whose days are spent drinking and roaming the land and whose nights are spent finding either women to bed or places to sneak into and sleep. He isn’t the most inspiring character at the beginning, not too smart and not too courageous, and he even attempts to sell the Rainblade immediately after finding it. As often happens, however, the story forces Kade into situations that test his true nature and his inner strength, pushing him beyond himself to help others in their times of need. He seeks his cure and rediscovers himself along the way.
Kade still maintains a sense of humor as he moves along his journey, and even as he becomes a changed man Kade is still a reluctant hero. He is presented with power and magic beyond belief, but he only pursues finding a cure to his illness, and perhaps some good mead and pretty women. He’s a simple man with simple tastes and simple desires, an everyman that faces impossible odds and harrowing battles with determination and grit, and a few jokes. Reading about Kade was never boring, and combined with the way Jones paces The Rainblade, I never found myself skimming sections. I was genuinely invested in the fate of Kade and the friends he makes along the way, and I couldn’t wait until I could pick up The Rainblade again.
I devoured every word of The Rainblade and savored it, enjoying the battles and the magic and the characters I encountered without needing a map of the world of a complete index of the political structure of the government. If you’re looking for a fun read with lots of action and humor, or even if you just want a break from in-depth high fantasy novels, pick up The Rainblade as soon as possible.