La Banda di Alastrine (The Alastrine Gang)

La Banda di Alastrine
, ,

, Book # 1
Elìps
September 2018
ebook
351
Italian
April 20, 2020 April 22, 2020

Centuries ago the Elemental Dragons shaped the land of Sabrié. The mortal races that now live in this world have however forgotten the creatures that allowed their birth and the Dragons now live only in legends. The Alastrine gang operates in Roas, one of the largest human cities that populate Sabrié: a handful of mercenaries commanded by a woman, who tries to give help to those who need it most. Trebor, a boy who has just arrived in that city, finds himself in the gang and, among fabric merchants, slave sellers and traitors, he will discover the many facets of the world that until then had ignored and the many secrets hidden inside Alastrine. But above all, he will discover that legends are no longer such.

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About the book

First of all there is no English translation for this book. Them, if you read the synopsis of the book you may think that the book is about dragons right from the start, but it isn’t. Dragons and their legends attracted me to the book and I wanted to read it for this reason. But dragons appear only after the middle of the book (or rather at the end).

The book is about a gang of teenagers who steal from the rich to give to the poor (more or less) however it is a gang of mercenaries but that does good for humanity. We follow some missions of the gang, such as being bodyguards of a cloth merchant, or the liberation of girls kidnapped by a slaver, but nothing of dragons and I find it really upsetting.

The book begins with Trebor, a boy who leaves his home because he wants to seek adventure. So he finds himself for the first time in the city of Roas but passing through the city market he believes he must buy a sword in case he has to defend himself. Here he meets an ambiguous figure who challenges him to a duel and promises him the most expensive sword on the market if he defeats him. After this duel, he invites him to the Mistral, a place where he discovers a gang of boys who promise him the adventure he wants. But after a few days he realises that the missions are not always adventurous because in some of them, for example, he has to collect mushrooms. Disappointed he tries to leave the gang but at that moment the boss (who is a woman) gives him a gift that changes his mind. But life in the gang is not easy and he soon discovers that the missions are not as adventurous as he expected and together with some other companions he begins to question the command of the woman.

What I think

If the aim was to introduce the legend of the dragons, as the plot says, I think that from the beginning there must have been a hint, even just the introduction of the leader of Alastrine as someone in particular and maybe even her half-elf friend. Instead we find ourselves reading about something not specified in the plot and in fact I asked myself several times if I was reading the right book. Then in the end the mystery of the dragon is also enthralling, but more than half of the book has passed before reading what the plot really says.

As for the title of the saga, it left me a bit perplexed since we don’t know anything about this Akire. Is it the dragon the plot is about? It isn’t even mentioned half a time in the book and therefore I don’t find it right.

Style

However I like the style, the reading is fluent so much that I read about 150 pages it the same time (about 3 and a half hours) that it took me to read 80 pages of Words of Radiance last time. In fact, the book is very smooth and can be read very quickly. The chapters are not very long apart from the final ones but even here the reading speed is high. The only thing that I don’t like is that a few times the chapter starts with Trebor and it seems that it is only his point of view (which is 90% of the book) but then switches to some actions in which Trebor is not there and therefore they must be narrated with someone else’s point of view. I honestly didn’t like this. I would have preferred that each chapter was with a specific point of view and not a mix.

One thing that has given me so much annoyance is to call the characters “the dark” or “the brown” that is for their hair color. In the end I no longer understood who was who. Whenever I encountered these “nicknames” I gritted my teeth. I hope this way of calling the characters is lost in the other volumes.

The author, however, wrote a particular scene in the book (which I will not say in order not to spoil) in an impeccable way so there’s hoped that there will be growth in that direction in the following books. In that scene the words used and the way of writing is different from the rest of the book and it is very melodious. I cannot explain this in a more appropriate way because I am not saying what scene it is but in the book itself there is a considerable growth in style.

Characters

Obviously, each character has its own past and here we get to know what both the leader (whose name we don’t know, by the way) did before and the two founding twins of the gang. Trebor with whom the book begins and who seems a bit like the protagonist, is a bit hateful, sometimes I wanted to slap him to make him come to his senses, but I understand that his mistakes are given by his youth and by the fact of not knowing how the band operates. And I hope his character grows throughout the story.

Conclusion

It can be said that I liked the book, I would have preferred that the plot corresponded to the real content and not that the dragons (one dragon) and the legends they are talking about were only in the three or four final chapters. Also I would have preferred a map of the world, unless it isn’t present in the ebook but it is in the physical book. I don’t know this, because I don’t own the book. And I find the world itself poorly defined and poorly constructed. Even the characters are a little flat, it’s a little too simple to be a fantasy. But I understand that not all fantasies must be super complicated and honestly a light book is needed in the midst of the super complicated books we read. This first volume seems a bit of a great prologue, it is almost better to wait for the saga to be finished  to read it all in one sitting (also because as mentioned it can be read very quickly). Honestly, the second book seems more interesting especially if it continues with the ending and does not tell anything else. I hope the world is explained much more going forward. Overall, however, not bad for being the debut book of the young author.

But I liked the message behind the gang, that the gang is not a simple group of friends or acquaintances who find themselves doing good but a real family, a group of people who no longer have a family or who don’t like theirs (like Trebor).

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