In Hammer’s debut fantasy novel, the first of a planned series, four 20-somethings are transported to another world, where they gain great powers and battle a dark lord. Aspiring movie stars Adem and Jean are on a photo shoot with Adem’s friends Carl and Wil when they suddenly find themselves transported to the land of Kismeria. According to a Kismerian man named Orion Demonslayer, king of the Torvellan people, the four are in fact the Sons of Odin and the Daughter of Thor—fated to wield the Lord’s Power for the Great Battle against the Dark One of the Low Realm. The four heroes now have the power to summon Battle Angels to assist them during combat. However, the heroes’ arrival also “taints” the teron—the male  Power—which now turns men evil or insane. It turns out that the taint was caused by the fact that Adem, Carl and Wil once witnessed a ghost (prior to the story’s events); Adem soon suffers from mental illness himself. The novel has a wealth of plot and spends more time relaying information than describing action, but when the action comes, it’s exhilarating—mortals and immortals face off against demons, vampires and Rahkwel (7-foot-tall goblins). Readers may find it hard to miss the influence of Dungeons & Dragons and similar role-playing games; for example, the Battle Angels summon energy from slain demons and rest when their own energy is exhausted, and they have conspicuous names such as Vampireking.

Battle strategies are also formulated on a chessboardlike platform. That said, the story also provides its characters with adequate dramatic resolve: Adem and Jean fall for one another but aren’t permitted to interact since it’s not a part of their destiny; Carl has a wife and child back in his world; and Wil finds a new love. Hammer spices up the novel with catchy, if strange, phrases—the taint’s effect, for example, is described as being like “maggot-infested shadows.” The book includes accommodating maps of Kismeria and a welcome glossary.

A complex fantasy novel brimming with weird and whimsical details. – Kirkus Reviews

Imagine you’re playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Anticipation is high as you prepare to roll the dice, but if the Dungeon Master spends too much time defining the setting or characters, it’s hard to get the game moving. That’s the feeling in Druantia’s Curse, the second book in fantasy author L.A. Hammer’s elaborate Sons of Odin series. This volume takes up where the first left off, as The immortal Sons of Odin and Daughter of Thor faced an evil curse on masculine magic. Now they also confront a hex upon feminine power as well. It’s up to Adem, Jean, Carl and Wil to put an end to both curses and return balance to the troubled land of Kismeria.

This should be exciting. Indeed, Hammer’s vivid visual imagery (as in, “a blur of motion as the five thousand riders moved in unison like a school of fish navigating on a sea of green”) makes the character’s journeys exhilarating and the battle scenes intense. When they alternate with extended narrative detail, however, it feels as if the Dungeon Master has overdone it. On the cusp of battle, for instance, Hammer stops to describe the soldiers’ costumes — black armor with golden serpentine dragons for Adem, crimson dragons for Carl. The image is majestic, but Hammer’s focus on physical features repeatedly disrupts the flow of action. A map of Kismeria and a glossary that explains unique vocabulary such as teron (male power) and terael (female power) are useful, but consulting them also takes readers away from the story, slackening the pace further.

Druantia’s Curse is entertaining and full of surprises—from wormholes to vampires—but it requires dedication to track all of the subplots. Casual readers of fantasy may be frustrated by the wealth of detail, but diehard fans will appreciate the Robert Jordanesque layering of characters, relationships and lands that brings Kismeria to life. – BlueInk Review