Review: The Fifth Ward: First Watch by Dale Lucas

Publisher: Orbit

Publishing Date: July 2017

ISBN: 9780316469074

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.0/5

Publishers Description: Humans, orcs, mages, elves, and dwarves all jostle for success and survival in the cramped quarters of Yenara, while understaffed Watch Wardens struggle to keep its citizens in line.
Enter Rem: new to Yenara and hungover in the city dungeons with no money for bail. When offered a position with the Watch to compensate for his crimes, Rem jumps at the chance.  His new partner is less eager. Torval, a dwarf who’s handy with a maul and known for hitting first and asking questions later, is highly unimpressed with the untrained and weaponless Rem.

Review: I could have read this story for eternity, the characters and world building are that good.This fantasy detective novel is set in a world of dwarves, humans, orcs and elves all interacting in strange and compelling ways. Every scene is brought to life with blazing imagery that is tied to constant movement. The characterization is superb and continues to surprise as events unfold. 

Rem and Torval are a great duo whom have opposed personalities that strangely compliment each other. As they wend their way through the night watch in the Fifth Ward, seemingly disparate murderous events transpire that prompts an investigation into the death of Torval’s old partner and several missing and/or dead young women. 

This novel has it all. It is at once deathly serious and riddled with funny moments. The denizens of Yenara are equally as compelling as the story line and add the meat to the world building bones. “So why you no give 5 stars!!!”. At about the 80% mark, everything goes downhill. Rem goes from an interesting noob who is fallibly funny and human to Mr. Hero-Guy/sword expert whom can do no wrong and saves everybody. Wha da fug? Really? It all begins with this patterned and clichéd fight scene where Rem showcases his skills and the dwarf is conveniently shunted to the side. This slide into patterned oblivion continues on through to the end, so you feel cheated that the novel discontinued it’s interesting twists and unexpected turns. The rendering between  Rem and his love interest will just about sicken you with it’s cloyingly sweet smugness. Still a solid read for 2/3.

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