Altdorf is a work of historical fiction that skirts the edge of the fantasy genre. It tells a fictional story set in Austria during the early fourteenth century, but includes a Druid priestess (Seraina). Her use of magic gives us the “fantasy” we need to include this book in our reviews.
Altdorf tells the story of a group of crusaders who are returning home from the holy wars to retire or start new lives. The starts as they cross paths with Austrian rulers and peasants at the beginning of a local revolt.
I enjoyed the book mainly due to the character development and conflict. Most of the main characters were shown in a way that gives readers a reason to care about them. The bad guys (Prince Leopold and Berenger von Landenberg) are also well defined so we have a team to root against.
J. K. Swift sprinkled a bit of philosophy into Altdorf that gives it some extra points. One quote that I particularly enjoyed is:
“All people experience a turning point in their lives. A precipice, where on one side lies the innocence of youth, and the other a sheer drop into the darkness that is life. For Thomas, that moment came when he learned to read.”
One thing where the book disappointed was the large amount of back story info dumps (or better characterized as history). We’re believers that if it’s important to the story, then tell it as a part of the story so the info dumps docked a few story points.
Altdorf is an enjoyable read that was for the most part fast paced.
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