Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review - Exile’s Blade - Book One - Clearwater Dawn by Scott Fitzgerald Gray

Exile’s Blade - Book One – Clearwater Dawn
Scott Fitzgerald Gray
Kindle Edition
Publisher: Insane Angel Studios
Publication Date: May 8, 2011
358 Pages (eBook version)
ASIN: B005007GHA


          Due to review commitments I do not get to read as much fantasy as I used to, which is really a shame. As a matter of fact the last true “fantasy” review I did was over a year ago. But, thanks to Clearwater Dawn by Scott Fitzgerald Gray I know that I’ll be picking up more in the near future, especially since this is the first book in a planned series. I recall how much fun Raymond E. Feist’s Magician was the first time I read it. That true joy of finding a well-written, creative, and stirring piece of fantasy fiction is hard to replicate. I remember being spellbound by the depth of the characters, the unique and unusual use of magic, the truly original plot, and the new worlds fully created out of nothing more than the imaginations of the author and his audience. Clearwater Dawn had much the same effect on me and, in my opinion, is every bit as good as the stories of the Riftwar series. I cannot pay more of a compliment to Mr. Gray’s work than to compare it with that classic series. The Riftwar books remain one of my all time favorite fantasy series and one of the few that I’ve read more than once. The Exile’s Blade series will be my next.

          Clearwater Dawn falls into that category of near-classic fantasy simply waiting for an audience to find it. Indeed, it’s hard to believe that this book is self-published and selling for only .99 in the Kindle store at Amazon and the Nook store at B&N. The story is clearly written by someone well-versed in the world of fantasy creation and a search of Mr. Gray’s past achievements will confirm that he is a long time author of Dungeons & Dragons manuals, campaigns, and narratives. As luck would have it, that previous experience carries over nicely into this novel. The locations are elaborate but not verbosely so and the characters are both believable and down-to-earth (including the princess who should be haughty but isn’t.) There is murder, and court intrigue, and secrets, and quests, and magic, and secret doors, and arranged marriages, and war and all the things you’d expect to find in a first-class fantasy adventure. With that said, the story is, of course, not perfect and the minor clichéd plot of a noble fugitive is trope-worthy but all-in-all the story is written well enough for that insignificant point to go relatively unnoticed. If you’re anything like me the “what’s going to happen on the next page” factor will have you turning pages furiously and the various character relationships will keep you interested until the very end. This was an enjoyable read and I’m happy to say that I’d recommend it to any and all fantasy fans (no matter age, fealty, or coat-of-arms.)

4 out of 5 stars

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

About the Author (From

Scott Fitzgerald Gray is a specially constructed biogenetic simulacrum built around an array of experimental consciousness-sharing techniques -- a product of the finest minds of Canadian science until the grant money ran out. Accidentally set loose during an unauthorized midnight rave at the lab, the S.F. Gray entity is currently at large amongst an unsuspecting populace, where his work as an author, screenwriter, editor, RPG designer, and story editor for feature film keeps him off the streets.

More info on Scott and his work (some of it even occasionally truthful) can be found by reading between the lines at


Clearwater Dawn Excerpt

Publisher Page - Insane Angel

Impressive list of D&D Credits

Kindle Store Link

Barnes & Noble Nook Store Link

FYI (File under “Getting to Know the Blogger”)

Some of my favorite Fantasy books include (in no particular order):

The Riftwar series by Raymond E. Feist
Riftwar Cycle
1. Magician: Apprentice & Magician (1985)
2. Silverthorn (1985)
3. A Darkness at Sethanon (1986)

Mithgar series by Dennis L. McKiernan
The Iron Tower
1. The Dark Tide (1984)
2. Shadows of Doom (1984)
3. The Darkest Day (1984)
The Silver Call
1. Trek to Kraggen-Cor (1986)
2. The Brega Path (1986)

The Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks
The Original Shannara Trilogy
1. The Sword of Shannara (1977)
2. The Elfstones of Shannara (1982)
3. The Wishsong of Shannara (1985)

Thomas Covenant series by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever
1. Lord Foul's Bane (1977)
2. The Illearth War (1978)
3. The Power that Preserves (1979)

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
The Dark Tower
1. The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger (1982)
2. The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three (1987)
3. The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands (1991)
4. The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass (1997)
5. The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla (2003)
6. The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah (2004)
7. The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower (2004)

There are others, of course, and these are all works I read as a young adult but I remember them making an impact on me as some of the best books (not just fantasies) that I’d ever read. To be fair, there are many great fantasy works that are much newer than those listed above and are just as entertaining but these I recall making an impression on me as exciting and stimulating works of fiction when I was a young man. For exceptional works of memorable, newer fantasy look for anything by Emma Bull, Cherie Priest, Jacqueline Carey, Stephen Lawhead, George R. R. Martin, Harry Turtledove, S. M. Stirling, Joe Abercrombie, Markus Heitz, Stan Nicholls, Patrick Rothfuss, or China Mieville, to name a few.

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