Review: The Dungeoneers

The Dungeoneers
The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The world is not a fair place, and Colm Candorly knows it. While his parents and eight sisters seem content living on a lowly cobbler’s earnings, Colm can’t help but feel that everyone has the right to a more comfortable life. It’s just a question of how far you’re willing to go to get it.

In an effort to help make ends meet, Colm uses his natural gift for pickpocketing to pilfer a pile of gold from the richer residents of town, but his actions place him at the mercy of a mysterious man named Finn Argos, a gilded-toothed, smooth-tongued rogue who gives Colm a choice: he can be punished for his thievery, or he can become a member of Thwodin’s Legions, a guild of dungeoneers who take what they want and live as they will. Colm soon finds himself part of a family of warriors, mages, and hunters, learning to work together in a quest to survive and, perhaps, to find a bit of treasure along the way.

Not as “action-packed, funny, and heartbreaking” as the blurb promises. That’s the first thing I can say about this book. Set in a fantasy world where goblins, orcs, dragons and other mythical creatures exist, this story of treasure hunters spends too much time setting up events. I distinctly remember putting the book down twice because I felt sleepy – and that is a rare occurrence for me. The start was slow, the middle was going nowhere and the story finally picked up pace after about three-fourths of the book. For a Hogwarts-esque treasure-hunting school, I expected more intrigue, more drama, but the narration, along with the main character, were uninteresting.

The world-building, is good, but not that great. A lot of things aren’t explained, even though the book is pretty long. The story first introduces us to Colm, to set up why he joins the Dungeoneer training. Then it’s all about the school – building up the characters and their relationships. Normally, I am in favor of good world-building, but this was at the expense of the plot. Halfway through the book, I was wondering what was the main point of the plot and was it going anywhere. Salvation came later on for me, when they finally have their trials and I get the action I was promised. The later events, leading to the end, were not as unexpected as you would imagine, with plenty of hints dropped. There is foreshadowing, and there is giving away the story – and this was on the wrong side.

Overall, it is epic fantasy, with lots of potential. Perhaps the later books would have a faster pace and more action, but this first one was just dragging on.

Received a free ARC from Walden Pond Press via Edelweiss; this does not influence my opinions or review.

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