Full disclosure: I know Mark, but purchased my own copy of his book.
Vulcan’s blade is a mere 315 pages, but the adventure density is hard to fathom. So much happens within the first 50 pages alone, my only major critique of the book is that it’s too short.
Structurally it’s similar to The Hobbit, or better yet, a D&D campaign. As the diverse members of the particularly well-written wizard Hornbeam’s party are gathered, so too become the perilous events that befall them.
I think by fleshing out some of the more major plot points and some of the earlier character development, this story could easily be made into two books – if not three! Heck, there are some smaller story elements that fascinated me (I’m looking at the night gnomes) that came and went in just a few short paragraphs.
Still, as a first effort I cannot judge this story too harshly. The final third of the book had my full attention and interest. This was a wonderful short adventure, perfect for an old fantasy nut like me trying to get back in the saddle. I’m looking forward to what Mark puts out next!
Favorite characters: Hornbeam, Raaka, and the bard