Despite my fears that the promise of the cover blurb might be too good to be true, The Hunter's Rede turned out to be one of those old-school pulp fantasy tales that hits all the right notes. F.T. McKinstry has built an interesting world here, with a fascinating system of magic, and put an interesting protagonist at the forefront. It takes a long while before Lorth makes that transition from protagonist to hero, but that's a large part of the story's charm.
Lorth is a great character, reminiscent of such pulp heroes as Conan, Elric, and Fafhrd. He's a self-serving loner, with an utter disregard for rules, and a recklessness borne of the legends that have grown around him. That's not so say he's a bad guy, just a selfish, pragmatic, amoral man with a somewhat distasteful job to do . . . which he happens to do very well. Like his predecessors, Lorth is also a man of deep-rooted passions, with loyalties that are sometimes short-lived, but no less significant for it.
The story here is well-told, moving along at a brisk pace. For such a short book - more a novella than a proper novel - there's a surprising amount of political intrigue and developing relationships to carry the story along. We're fed background details as we go, with no awkward moments of exposition, and no extended flashbacks to pull us from the main thread of the narrative. Like I said earlier, the system of magic is quite intriguing, but also smartly limited, keeping the overall story grounded in intelligent resolutions, as opposed to exaggerated games of one-upmanship.
While this first book works well as a self-contained story, there's more than enough potential left unexplored for subsequent instalments in the further Chronicles of Ealiron.