Saturday, July 15, 2017

Dwarves, orcs and mayhem in First Watch by Dale Lucas

First Watch (The Fifth Ward #1)Author: Dale Lucas
Series: The Fifth Ward, #1
Released: July 11th 2017
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 416 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Humans, orcs, mages, elves, and dwarves all jostle for success and survival in the cramped quarters of Yenara, while understaffed Watch Wardens struggle to keep its citizens in line.
Enter Rem: new to Yenara and hungover in the city dungeons with no money for bail. When offered a position with the Watch to compensate for his crimes, Rem jumps at the chance.
His new partner is less eager. Torval, a dwarf who's handy with a maul and known for hitting first and asking questions later, is highly unimpressed with the untrained and weaponless Rem.
But when Torval's former partner goes missing, the two must consort with the usual suspects -- drug dealing orcs, mind-controlling elves, uncooperative mages, and humans being typical humans -- to uncover the truth and catch a murderer loose in their fair city.

Take your favorite cop show (Lethal Weapon is a personal favorite), place it in a filthy city with a distinct medieval feel, add dwarves, elves and other assorted creatures and you’ll get a pretty clear idea of what to expect from Fifth Ward: First Watch. Everyone has their weak spot, and buddy cop movies are mine, which means I was endlessly entertained by this book.

Rem is a newcomer to Yenara City, unemployed and just a bit lost. He is more than willing to work, but there’s no work to be found and his low supply of coins is rapidly disappearing. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances (involving a smart girl and no small amount of pride) Rem ends up working as a watchwarden, a member of law enforcement in the city. His partner is Torval, an enigmatic and temperamental dwarf, who is four feet tall and just as wide, with a volatile temper and a deep hatred for the orcs. The two are an oddly mismatched pair – Rem, educated, polite and completely inexperienced, and Torval, explosive, often rude and very street-smart.

Rem is hilarious and just a tiny bit pathetic as he stumbles through his first assignments as watchman. He is prone to blushing, the type of person who relies on his manners first and his fists second, but Yenara City has little patience for well-mannered northerners. Before he can be chewed up and spit out by the city’s merciless streets, he needs to learn from his partner, and maybe meet him half-way.

The two start working on a missing persons case and they slowly find their rhythm. What started out as an unlikely partnership quickly turns into an odd but promising dynamic. Lucas’ detailed worldbuilding only adds to the charm, and the colorful inhabitants keep us entertained. The book suffers just a bit from the burden of being the first in the series, establishing a detailed setting and sufficient character development to carry multiple novels, but all in all, they are just minor problems that can be considered an investment into the future of the series.

Dale Lucas took the usual buddy cop trope and built upon it, and he created a whole new playground for fantasy fans. Yenara City is my kind of literary place with its filthy streets, rivers of ale and fights breaking out left and right. With the second book, Friendly Fire, right around the corner, now is the perfect time to delve into this world.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.

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