Some of the best fun that can be had with epic fantasy is the chance to explore new worlds and get lost in the experience. JMD Reid’s books are always exceptional on the worldbuilding and Foundations of Courage was no different.
1. Thoughts on the plot
This book is the first in the Shadow of the Dragons series, which means that the plot is only going to barely scrape the surface of the overarching story, as is the case with most epic fantasy series. In this instance, the book follows Euddan, a young man in a quiet village known for their luminous sheep. He ventures into the neighbouring wood, a place of monsters and poisonous trees, to try and find a cure to save his sick mother. Once there, he comes across a fox made entirely of light, and from there his life changes. One of those changes is venturing on a quest to help the woman he loves as she leaves their town to escape the legacy of her cruel, sorcerous father. But the world is far more dangerous than either of them anticipated, and there are dangerous forces hunting Euddan’s friend.
The plot for this book is fairly standard for an epic fantasy. Hero gets shoved out into the world, either after some sudden good deed or due to encroaching dangerous forces. In this instance, there are both. I think the plot was entertaining, if a bit generic. One could almost predict where the story was going to go, if not the particular world-related elements that were involved. Good, yes. Entertaining, yes. But generic. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing.
2. Thoughts on the characters
At the beginning of the story I liked Euddan quite a lot. He was a bit naive, a bit eager, and he was not afraid to accept adventure when it basically fell into his lap. All traits that are fun to read in a hero, especially when he starts to learn more and develop into the character we know he can be. Except…he sort of never did. Granted, this is the first book in a twelve book series, so there is a lot of ground left to cover for Euddan. However, his character was almost exactly the same at the end of the book than at the beginning, despite the dark and dangerous paths that he and Voinee walked. Voinee (I think I spelled it wrong), his friend and travelling companion, does have a fair bit more development in this story, but hers halts about halfway through the story, right at the point where she starts questioning her identity and relationship with Euddan and her past. Then, that is all that occupies her thoughts for the rest of the book. Again, this is a twelve book series, but I was hoping for a bit more.
3. Favourite part
Lumi and Nettles, definitely. They may not speak, but they have such personality!
The book is good, entertaining. It’s a perfect example of the first book in an epic fantasy series. And, for me, that’s sort of the problem. I was hoping for a bit more variety, a bit more character exploration. Instead, this book feels very formulaic and predictable. Again, that’s not bad if you want something familiar, but for me it was a bit too familiar.
Overall, I would say that Foundation of Courage is a good book, and an interesting start to what would appear to be a well crafted, highly involved epic fantasy adventure.