An occasionally compelling but generally uncontrolled bildungsroman.
Sláine Mac Roth is a member of the Sessair, a warrior clan boasting a violent honor culture and a healthy (or unhealthy, as it were) bloodlust. When the story begins, the yet-to-be-exiled Sláine is 13, a junior but up-and-coming member of the tribe. He spends his days cavorting with a small band of adolescent ruffians, all the while cultivating a surprisingly brutal rivalry with an older warrior-teen, Cullen of the Wide Mouth, with whom he jostles for position at the head of the young-marauder class. Though both Sláine and Cullen aspire to join the clan's elite warriors, Sláine has an edge. As he grows, he becomes aware of a new power growing inside him, the Warp Spasm, a violent, raging connection to the earth goddess that affords him near limitless power, but little control. However, all is not well in the land of Murias; the good king is dead, the new king is untested, the head druid is up to no good and hordes even more barbaric than the Sessair ravage the surrounding territories. With so many plotlines in play–many of them quite exciting–the tale demands the attention of a careful storyteller, but Savile is not up to the task. Rather than transitioning smoothly from episode to episode, the novel lurches along at a halting pace. The narrative is less a rounded arc than a jagged edge, with events spilling illogically to the next and characters bumping up against–rather than relating to–each other.
Will likely appeal to only the most devoted fantasy fans.