Review: First Watch (The Fifth Ward #1) by Dale Lucas

Rating: 8.5/10

Synopsis

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.

Review

*Originally reviewed on Booknest*

First thing that came to mind when I read the synopsis was Will Smith’s new Netflix movie ‘Bright’.

“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.”

Having read the book in it’s entirety, I still hold to that thought, except this isn’t present day LA and swords replace guns. I also have to say that, for an Orbit publication, the cover left a bit to be desired. Not that the cover doesn’t fit the story perfectly; just that it isn’t one that would fly off of the shelves IMO. Having said all that, this is a great start to what I expect to be a wonderful series.

Rem, a young northerner who is new to the city of Yenara, wakes up in the dungeons to await whatever fate is to come. When an unforeseen opportunity arises to join the Watch, Rem realizes he has been given a second chance. When introduced to his new partner, Torval, Rem realizes he may have bitten off more than he can chew. You see, Torval is like Denzel Washington’s character, Alonzo, in the movie ‘Training Day’; he tends to put enforcement of the law above justice and public safety (and honestly, it comes off as a bit racist and unacceptable). Well, Torval’s former partner has gone missing and the two must put their heads together, and their prejudices aside, in order to uncover the truth that lies hidden in Yenara’s deepest, darkest pits.

To give you a picture, I think of Yenara sort of like King’s Landing from GoT. The Watch is sort of like a Kings Guard/Night’s Watch that patrol and serve the king’s justice wherever deemed necessary. The difference being that there are five (5) Wards in Yenara and justice can only be dispensed in the Ward you are assigned. Cross the line and expect your lashings. There is a magic system in place, but it isn’t a big focal point of the story except as a tool for healing. I’m sure this will be expanded in future books. The characters are also well drawn out and backstories are slowly explored, which gives the reader a sense of familiarity with the protagonists.

Lucas has written a fine book and Simon Vance killed the audio (per his norm). The only real issue I had was with world-building as there really wasn’t any. Just about everything takes place in Yenara and the only glimpses of other cities you receive are races from other parts of the world. I expect Lucas to expand the “universe” in the sequels and believe he will open up adventures in other Wards, but we will wait to see. I would also like to know a bit more about Torval as there has to be something hidden underneath all of the anger he holds so close to his heart.

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