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The Ancient (Saga of the First King 1) Paperback – 2 Jan 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; paperback / softback edition (2 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330458450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330458450
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 2.6 x 17.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,054,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Praise for "The Ancient: ""Salvatore, a prolific and increasingly polished creator of fantasy sagas, launches the Saga of the First King with one of his strongest books to date."--"Booklist" "Salvatore excels in world-building and creating complex, introspective characters who triumph through wit and determination as well as skill in open combat."--"Library Journal" on R. A. Salvatore "Bob Salvatore always makes the most fantastic seem real. His heroes become friends we care about, and his foes fascinate."--Ed Greenwood on R. A. Salvatore

About the Author

R. A. Salvatore is the New York Times bestselling author of the DemonWars novels and also The Highwayman, precursor to The Ancient.

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2.8 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 April 2009
Format: Paperback
Famed the world over for his Forgotten Realm Drizzt Do'Urden novels RA Salvatore really doesn't need any introduction. However that said every author has to bring their A game to each new novel which is what he's done with this tale, yet to be honest its pretty much the same sort of formula as is present with many of his other novels as Bransen is pretty much another Drizzt in a new form. Don't get me wrong, its fun, its an adventure and its well sculpted so you really know what your going to get with one of Roberts books and its dependable to generate a tale that will tick all the right boxes even if its not a radical departure from his already established plot devices.
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Format: Hardcover
Well I jumped in at the deep end with this book as for a change I haven't read the first in the series. To be fair it was £1.99 so I got it while cheap and not realising it was the second in the series.
Still allowing for a loss in background I got into the book quite quickly and it is quite a good yarn. I'm guessing the main character is meant to be 'the highwayman' but having missed the first book,which is named after him, I found myself more drawn to Brother Cormack and the powrie (type of dwarf) as they seemed more interesting to me.

A bit like in the Drizzt books you had other likeable characters involved in his story ,so the same happens here.

He weaves a good story mixing between everyday struggles for some characters and wide sweeping power struggles for the various factions.
An interesting read and while it doesn't have the same spark as his other books it is still a really good book.

I would have given it 4 stars but for one reason -the length at about 360 pages of big print I finished it in an afternoon! Now I may be spoiled at the moment beacuse I am forging through the wheel of time series (book 8 so far)and am used to slightly bigger reads. But would feel cheated if I had paid more for it.

Hope this helps
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laural148Q on 13 July 2009
Format: Paperback
The Ancient is the second book in the first king saga, set in the world of Corona. The book is mainly about a crippled man named Bransen Garibond, also known as the Highwayman. Who after being kicked out of Pryd Holding, while searching for his long lost father. Bransen travels with his wife Cadayle and her mother Callen to the north. He gets tricked into fighting a war against the Samhaist leader, Ancient Badden. Who is currently making plans to destroy the inhabitants of a lake just below Badden's Magical Ice Castle as well as the people of the northern honce land; the societies on the lake are in the middle of their own conflicts, unaware of Badden's plan to destroy them. Bransen becomes involved with two groups to save all of the lake's inhabitants, and stop all of northern Honce from being under Badden's Control.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Howard Duffill on 15 Jan 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Mr Salvatore, but this book is a big disappointment. If I was you I would give it a miss.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 21 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A solid start to a new trilogy 15 Mar 2008
By Andy Gray - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Ancient by R.A. Salvatore is the first novel in a new Corona trilogy titled Saga of the First King. This novel picks up shortly after the events of The Highwayman: A Novel of Corona. Before reading this novel, if you have not yet read the Highwayman, I strongly suggest you do so. There are a number of things that are alluded to, or talked about, that if you have not read the Highwayman won't make much sense at all. So, to avoid confusion, I would strongly encourage readers to read that one first. It is also important to note that this trilogy is a prelude of sorts to his highly acclaimed Demon Wars saga. As with most preludes, it is not necessary to have already read the Demon Wars saga - but it would certainly add much to the reading experience.

The plot of this book is actually several plots woven together to create an overall plotline. The overall plot is that of Bransen trying to find his the father he has never known. However, there are more immediate plot line that are put into play. There is a subplot of a disenchanted monk who is seeking to find himself either in the tenets of the church or away from the church's teachings. There is also a subplot of a barbarian shaman who is dealing with her faith and beliefs in the face of the new faith that she is being exposed to due to the arrival of the monks. The third subplot involves Bransen being tricked into participating in something that he otherwise would not have taken part in. All three of these subplots are loosely tied together by the threat of an ancient evil.

A couple of the characters found in this book are carryover characters from the Highwayman. Most notably Bransen. However, aside for a few select characters, the cast of this book is new. A word of caution to fans of Mr. Salvatore's Drizzt novels. Do not become too attached to any character in Salvatore's Corona novels, at times when you least expect it one may happen to die. Two of the more interesting new characters are Cormack and Milkeila. Both are from separate religions, but are dealing with the same feelings about their religions. Each of these characters experiences significant character development throughout that novel, some of which is introspective which I appreciate as we don't really see that much in fantasy novels. Bransen, although he is a main part of the story, doesn't really seem to experience much development at all. By and large, the way he starts the novel is pretty much how he ends the novel. I really enjoyed his character in The Highwayman, yet I never felt like I really connected with his character in this novel. There were also a couple of powries who I also had a hard time connecting with. From past novels we know that powries are heartless, killers and tough as nails. Yet, in this novel, while we certainly learned more about them - it almost seemed as though Mr. Salvatore tried to force the powries into being a bit of comedic relief which is totally against everything we, as readers, know about them. The villain, Ancient Badden, is your typical fantasy novel villain. There is really nothing that sets him apart from other villains. He's not a `badly' written villain by any means, it's just there is nothing `special' about him either.

I do have a couple of criticisms about this novel.

1 - Fans of Mr. Salvatore's Drizzt novels will surely recognize the use of journal entries in this novel at the start of each section. When I say the first entry I inwardly groaned. When I saw the second one I was disappointed that Salvatore would use that means of conveyance so popular in the Drizzt books, in this novel. It's the adage of going to the well one too many times takes away the uniqueness. I often like the Drizzt entries, but they seem very out of place in this novel.

2 - The way the chapters are set up is very, for lack of a better word, unconventional. There are several small sections in each chapter covering a different point of view. A couple of times it even alternates between a couple POV in a given chapter. This approach makes the chapters, at times, feel choppy and disjointed. That style, at least to me, takes away from any solid flow the previous section may have established.

Some things that I really liked about this novel.

1 - I like the overall story arc of Bransen looking for his father. It was hinted at towards the end of the Highwayman and I think it will be a rather interesting tale to read about his search and how he handles having to use the gemstones to be `normal'.

2 - I really enjoy how Salvatore writes secondary characters. They are almost always as richly detailed as the primary characters. It is nice to see that attention to detail given to even minor characters.

3 - I just really enjoy reading books set in the world of Corona. It's a richly detailed world that has some very unique elements to it. As well as the general rule I mentioned before about Corona novels. No character is safe from impending death. It's a refreshing thing to say in fantasy novels now-a-days.

Overall, I really wanted to love this book. Yet, once I finished I did not feel it was Salvatore's best work. It's certainly a solid novel, and one many fans will most certainly enjoy. But, I never felt the `wow' factor I felt with the Highwayman, or the Demon War novels. If I had the ability to rate this novel a 3.5 out of 5 I would do that, but being that I don't I will give it a 4 out of 5. It's certainly a book I would recommend to fantasy fans, with the caveat that they should really read the Highwayman first. I am looking forward to see what other stories Salvatore will write in Corona.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Formulaic but Fun! 25 Mar 2008
By Scott Masterton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Publisher's weekly blasted this book condemning it with the suggestion that Salvatore had "borrowed" characters, situations and settings from his previous novels. While this is likely true Salvatore's oft repeated theme surrounding the questioning of Mores, faith and "common knowledge" is such an important theme that it SHOULD be repeated. Even more importantly, the formula that Salvatore uses is just plain entertaining.

This is the second novel featuring Salvatore's Highwayman. The Highwayman is a cross between Jet Li, Robin Hood and Dustin Hoffman's Rain Man. In the first novel we are introduced to Bransen the son of an Abellican monk (a Catholic priest with magic) and a Jhesta Tu Mystic (Shaolin Nun with magic). Branson's mother, newly and unknowingly pregnant saves a dying woman using her mystical Chi based abilities. Unfortunately the healing requires that the Jest Mystic take on the poisons that infect the woman's body. These aquired poisons cause massive birth defects that become apparent after Branson's birth. With his mother dead and his father missing (dead as well), the Stork (as Branson is called) is raised in a harsh monastery. However, Branson trains himself in the ways of the jhesta Tu mystics and combines it with the powerful gemstones of the Abellicans to not only make himself whole, but to make of himself an unstoppable warrior.

In "the Ancient" we find Branson travelling with his wife and his mother in law as they attempt to get to the mountains of Jhest so that Branson can be completely healed of his Stork body (he still needs the gemstones in order to become the Highwayman). Through a series of events, adventures and individuals, the Highwayman is conscripted into an army that is in the midst of a Holy war; his skills and abilities are multiplied by joining them with an unlikely, but skilled group of freedom fighters.

I found "The Ancient" to by highly entertaining, the action sequences are tight with plenty of blood and gore; and while the characters are not new ones that stretch Salvatore's literary muscles, they are likeable, three dimensional and entertaining.

If you are a Bob Salvatore fan you won't be surprised by this novel, but you will be entertained.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
solid Salvatore, but not his A-game 1 Jun 2008
By Kris Miranda - Published on
Format: Hardcover
More like 3.5 stars, really.

The problem isn't so much what the Publisher's Weekly reviewer centered on (the undeniable familiarity of most of The Ancient's characters and such), but that the actual prose is pretty weak. It's often too simple and often repetitive (both in exposition and in dialogue), with Salvatore's usual lyricism shining only occasionally. I was reminded a little of moments in his Hunter's Blades trilogy, when short sentences intended to be dramatic and powerful came off as trying too hard. Compared to the DemonWars saga and even to Salvatore's Forgotten Realms work, I feel like The Ancient is written almost like a young adult book, which wouldn't be bad in itself if I'd been expecting that. Another reviewer also mentioned that the narrative often seemed fragmented because of POV shifts within sections; I agree. And the mildly didactic elements--something you get in both Salvatore and his late, somewhat similar-in-style friend David Gemmell--seem a little worn, not because we've seen them before but because, again, the writing is uncharacteristically pedestrian.

Like the PW reviewer mentioned, it does take awhile for the disparate plotlines to converge, but once they do momentum picks up noticeably.

But Salvatore's other strengths are still here in force; combat scenes generally and descriptions of the Highwayman's grace in particular are great, and even though some might get understandably sick of dwarves, the powries are different enough from your typical "Tolkien-esque" variety to remain engaging. While the prose is weak, the actual characterization is as strong and deep as longtime Salvatore readers will expect. The inner conflicts of many characters recall moments of the DemonWars saga, and the relative self-centeredness of Bransen and the cynicism of most characters feels honest and real and totally understandable.

I'd have liked to see a little more of Jameston, the ranger precursor, but I expect that in the rest of The Saga of the First King we will. The hard, cunning, loyal, and briefly manipulative Dawson McKeege was an interesting supporting character, too. It was also nice to see more of the Alpinadorans and powries than we previously have in Salvatore's Corona books.

I hope the writing style is back up to Salvatore's usual deftness and maturity for the next installments of this saga, which I will follow, but if you've been reading him for awhile, know that this isn't up to the standards of Mortalis, Transcendence, the Sellswords series, The Silent Blade, or the recent Orc King.
Lots of action, fun lightweight reading 18 Mar 2008
By booksforabuck - Published on
Format: Hardcover
With his soul-stone in place, Bransen Garibond is a perfect warrior and thief--the Highwayman. Without it, he becomes a cripple--the Crane. This disguise has helped him evade capture, but eventually the rulers have figured it out and sent a message to the Abellican monastary. The Highwayman is to be arrested and executed. With this threat over his shoulder, and a false promise for reward, Bransen is tricked into fighting a war against hordes of trolls, barbarians, and giants.

The warm water lake in the midst of a glacier is the source of Samhaist power and when the Samhaist leader, The Ancient, discovers an Abellican fortress in the midst of the lake, he decides it must be destroyed--along with everyone who allowed it to exist. The Samhaist faith is the truth, after all--it promises death, which is the only certainty.

Brother Cormack is proud to be one of the Abellicans who's settled in an island in the warm lake, even if none of the locals has adopted the faith he and his fellows teach. But when the monks rescue three injured barbarians and then refuse to let them leave the monastary until they accept the Abellican faith, his own faith is shaken. Could this really be the mercy and gentleness he believes in?

Bransen, the unwilling hero, and Cormack, the monk stripped of his faith, together with a small band of redcapped dwarves, seem like little threat to The Ancient himself. Still, although Cormack might have been cast out of the Abellican brotherhood, he's got to do something to prevent their complete destruction--as well as the destruction of the people living in the lake--including the woman he's come to love.

Author R. A. Salvatore creates a fascinating character in Cormack--a man of faith, rejected by those of his faith. Throw in some wonderful fight scenes and you've got a book worth reading. I found less to like about Bransen. Salvatore created him as the reluctant hero, but he seems more reluctant than hero. As he, himself, realizes, he is selfish even when doing good and it's, frankly, sometimes difficult to care whether he comes out of his many fights on the winning or losing side. The story is enhanced by wise-talking dwarves, bit characters like Dawson and Dame Gwydre, and a well-motivated villain in The Ancient.

THE ANCIENT makes for enjoyable, if lightweight, reading.
Just my type of book, although too short 3 Mar 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm definitely not a critic, but I really enjoyed this book, but as stated in the title that enjoyment ended early. I realize there are more books afterwards but it almost feels like reading through a collection of a-little-bit-longer-than-short stories. You really feel for the main character, and as cliche as it is, you just can't help but feel good at the end. Don't read this if you are looking for the next mind blowing book for your collection, read it if you are looking for just an all around enjoyable read.
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