Friday, October 17, 2008

Review: _Karavans_ by Jennifer Roberson

The people of Sancorra flee their homeland in Karavans to be free of the conquering Hencari. Strange men of the Shoia mingle among the humans with their own agendas. A giant magical forest awakens, threatening humanity with its movement. These are a few of the enticing plot threads of Karavans by Jennifer Roberson. The book is an interesting beginning to a new Epic Fantasy series because of its characters, plot and themes.

To begin, the author creates fascinating characters to impel readers into the story. Rhuan is a guide for the karavan. He is a member of the Shoia, a mysterious people with the ability to revive after being killed. Many problems plague Rhuan like remaining secretive, being feared and being on an enigmatic personal journey. His cousin Brodhi is an opposite personality who must overcome arrogance and contempt for humans. Women characters are fascinating too. Ilona is a diviner who reads hands to tell people their futures. She struggles with her feeling for Rhuan and curiosity about his background. Audran is pregnant and has her family. She fights to protect her family from the uprooting of their lives. All of these characters are intriguing thanks to the creativeness of Ms. Roberson.

Next, the compelling plot keeps readers engaged in the story told in the book. Audran, her husband and children arrive at the settlement where karavans leave from to go to other nations, fleeing the cruel Hencari. They need to join the karavan so her unborn child can be born in a new land as diviners prophesied. The karavan master Jorda will not let them join unless his diviner Ilona says it is all right. Rhuan backs the family joining too. On the road, Davyn, Audran’s husband, plans to leave the karavan and take a shortcut to their destination. The guide Rhuan counsels against this plan, saying the route will take the family too close to the perilous deepwood. Alisanos is a large dark forest that looms over people’s lives. Humans trapped in Alisanos never return or come back changed. The forest is alive, periodically moving without warning. This is about to occur again, increasing the tension and suspense of the book. Ms. Roberson weaves a gripping plot that holds readers until the end.

Finally, the themes of the book keeps he interest level high for readers. One of the themes is journeys taken that bring on change. Rhuan is on a journey to acquire his fondest desire. Audran’s family and others journey to find peace. These journeys are threatened by the chaotic force of Alisanos. Another theme is relationships and how they are affected by chaos. Relationships are challenged by the ever changing situations of the characters. The author presents the themes subtly in her vivid descriptions of the plot

In the end, Karavans by Jennifer Roberson is a fascinating, suspenseful Epic Fantasy. Characters, plot and themes combine to create an impressive first book of a new series. Ms. Roberson’s new series is a departure from her previous books and will be interesting for readers. I recommend this book and look forward to reading the next ones in the series.

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