Beginning a Beginning
by Danny Birt
Dark Press Books, 2014
A Review by
Colleen R. Cahill
When a book series comes to an end, it can be a great hooray or a disappointment. The hooray is when the threads of a story all come to together in a logical and satisfying conclusion; the disappointment is when the tale ends poorly or just peters out. In the case of the last book in Danny Birt’s Laurian Pentalogy, Beginning a Beginning, from Dark Quest, there is satisfaction galore with a few plot twists, just to keep things interesting.
At the end of the previous volume, things are not looking good. Of major importance is Alaris is dead. Since he has been the only one who understood a complex plan, this is very bad. There is hope as Magae, the god of magic, seems to be taking the lead, including orders to bring Alaris’ body along as a depressed band of travelers heads to the abandoned city of Pentacle. Interspersed among the descriptions of journey is a series of fascinating flashbacks of Alaris’ life, starting when he is fourteen, continuing to the fall of Pentacle where he was lost much of his magical power and to years after, revealing his hand in forming the present. A lot of things are explained here, not only about Alaris and the “tens of thousands of years” that passed, but also about other wonders like the Prophetess.
Meanwhile, when the travelers reach Pentacle, things look bleak when Magae insists one of his captains is needed to open the doors; Alaris was the last of the god’s Captains. Perhaps less surprising to us than his companions, Alaris awakens and does open the stronghold, a good thing as the enemy forces will soon be approaching.
The party has barely begun to settle in and cautiously explore Pentacle, a city still loaded with dangerous magical traps, when an army of dwarves arrives. It turns out these are friends rather than foes as they arrive with the powerful wizard, Ferri, as well as General Lenale. If it sounds like the forces are gathering, its only because they are, as both those for and against Magae are streaming towards Pentacle. The big question is when the inevitable battle will begin.
This last book in the series is different from the others in several ways: for example after the party arrives, all the action takes place in Pentacle. There are also a lot of reveals here, about not only Alaris, but also about many other characters, the nature of the gods and of this flat world. Not that every piece is neatly tied up with a bow, as several events lead to new questions about the future, but this is realistic as not all problems are solved by a fight. As a fan of the books this gives me hope that the author might revisit some of the fascinating characters in the future.
What may also be clear is if you have not read the previous volumes, you will need to do so before delving into this book. And that is not a bad thing as the Laurian Pentalogy is a great read. For those who have been following this series, you won’t want to miss Beginning the Beginning, a really good conclusion to a wonderful story.