Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: _The Company of Glass_ by Valery Leith

Nine years have passed. The floating city of Jai Pendu comes close to Everien again. Tarquin the Free rides toward the citadel to warn the king of an invading army from Pharice. This is how The Company of Glass by Valery Leith begins the first book of the Everien trilogy. The author brings this different Epic Fantasy to life through its characters, setting and plot.

The book revolves around two main characters of different backgrounds. Tarquin is a jaded, tormented warrior once known as Quintar who blames himself for a failed quest eighteen years before that resulted in the loss of his Company of men. He tries to right a grave wrong from the past. Istar is the daughter of one of the lost company. She wants to prove her worth as a warrior and leader of men by going on a deadly quest. Quintar is a loner, running into different characters throughout the book but with few friends. Istar has the help of her companions Kassien, Pallo, Xiriel and Pentar who aid her through her growth. Ms. Leith crates memor ˇable characters through action and dialogue.

Next, the setting of the book helps to give it suspense. Everien is a land consisting of mountains and a high plateau. The people are made up of separate clans devoted to totemic animals such as bear, wolf, deer and others. Each clan has its own fighting style with their own weapons. Ancient ruins from the vanished Everien civilization are everywhere, giving the clans knowledge to explore. Pharice is a decadent empire bordering on Everien. This leads to trouble with other creatures. The author brings the setting to life with vivid descriptions that enhance the suspense of the book.

Ultimately, the plot of the book makes it an exciting read. The clans have been threatened for years by a species called the Sekk. These creatures enslave clan warriors making them slay their people in berserk massacres. A woman clan warrior unites them and becomes the queen. She seeks out the technology from the vanished Everien race to protect the clans from the Sekk. Her quest to J 8ai Pendu gained her entry to the ancient citadel of Jai Khalar. Nine years later she sends Quintar and his company to Jai Pendu, which gave them access to the Eyes to protect the land. Unfortunately that quest ended tragically with the mysterious loss of the Company except Quintar. Jai Pendu returns again. Istar wants to take her companions there to get new technology because the Eyes are failing. Quintar is drawn in again on a wild journey of redemption. All the elements of this plot are deftly put together by Ms. Leith providing a suspenseful, graphic adventure.

The Company of Glass by Valery Leith is a grand start to a different type of Epic Fantasy trilogy. Ms. Leith creates an exciting novel through her characters, setting and plot. This book is different because the characters do not win easily and the quest for Jai Pendu causes a lot of suffering. Interesting images remain with readers such as Jai Khalar’s shifting rooms and characters having to find a new route to places within the citadel. The book is an unforgettable beginning to be followed by The Riddled Night.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Review: _Dragoncharm_ by Graham Edwards

Fantasy authors create many imaginative worlds to set their stories in. They add different types of creatures to their worlds to convey their plots and themes in a place far distant from our reality. Dragoncharm by Graham Edwards is such a book. It combines elements of Epic Fantasy and Animal Fantasy to produce an entertaining book.

The book opens in a world of dragons. There are no humans or any other types of intelligent beings on this world. Two types of dragon inhabit the world; the Charmed dragons who possess magic and the Naturals, large fierce dragons with no magic. Their world is on the brink of destruction, giving the main characters a quest to accomplish.

Fortune is the main character. He is a young Natural dragon frightened by events occurring among his fellow dragons. There is a growing madness in the naturals. They want to destroy the Charmed ones living in the caves out of fear of the Charmed's magic. Fortune meets the Charmed dragon Cumber and they watch as their settlement is destroyed. Cumber and Fortune flee toward the large dragon city of Covamere.

Though dragons, all of the characters are given realistic traits by Mr. Edwards. Fortune is a brave, innocent hero. His love, Gossamer, is a loyal, courageous female with great strength. Wood loves his father, but realizes his mistakes. Cumber discovers that magic isn’t as important as friendship. The insane Charmed black dragon Wraith and mad Natural dragon Shatter are excellent villains. These wonderful characters bring the story to life.

The characters and plot help the themes to give the book a lot of adventure and action. With the world on the edge of destruction, the dragons must overcome great obstacles to save it. Wraith is in a struggle with the old leader of the Charmed dragons for supremacy. The Natural dragons are at war with the Charmed. Madness has destroyed most of the dragons. Winter is closing in on the end. Through all the book runs the themes of good versus evil, change, innocence and love. Edwards weaves these themes into a powerful story.

Dragoncharm by Graham Edwards is a good Fantasy book about dragons. The author creates an imaginative world inhabited only by dragons out to save their world. Plot, characters and themes combine to provide readers with a powerful story full of adventure and heroes. This book is the beginning of a trilogy. The other books are: Dragonflame and Dragonstorm

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Book Review: _The Hallowed Isle_ by Diana L. Paxson

The King Arthur legend is ingrained in our imagination. In every generation some author writes an Arthurian novel, adding new perspectives to the story. Fantasy author Diana L. Paxson recently added her contribution with The Hallowed Isle. Consisting of four books, Paxson wrote a Historical Fantasy about King Arthur. She blended historical material with the legend to creat a story filled with realistic characters, a vivid setting and strong themes.

The first book, The Book of the Sword, starts the story before King Arthur's birth. It sets the stage for the birth of Arthur by telling the story of Merlin. The priestesses of the goddess guard an ancient sword of power. Artoria Argantel, the high priestess, leaves to marry Amlodius to fulfill a prophecy. Her sister is kidnapped by a wild man and after being rescued bears Merlin. He grows up, learns magic and later helps Uthir conceive Arthur. Paxson incorporates the historical details of a Britain after the Roman Empire abandoned it, giving the book a grim reality.

The Book of the Spear revolves around Artor's early years of reign and dealing with the Saxons. Oesc is the grandson of Hengest. He joins his father in Britain. Years after his father's death he becomes a prisoner of Artor. During those years, Oesc's enmity turns to friendship. Eventually he returns to his people and finds his destiny. Throughout this book the reader sees the growth of Artor into kingship. The second book adds new aspects of historical Britain and a growth in the characters. This sets up the third book.

Artor's life and his marriage to Guendivar is the focus of The Book of the Cauldron. Told from the point of view of Guendivar and other women, this book tells the story going on among the women in Artor's life. They strive to protect or possess the mystic cauldron of the pagan goddess, a powerful artefact of healing and magic. Guendivar is a woman gifted with power, but untrained in its use. She is uncertain about being a queen. Morgause, Artor's sister, causes problems with the marriage in her ambition for power. She wants the cauldron to give her even greater power. This book adds an interesting touch to the legend of the Holy Grail and has a conclusion that neatly sets up the last book.

The Book of the Stone concludes the series with the final chapter is Artor's life. Medraut, Artor's son from Morgause, joins his father after his mother joins the priestesses on the Isle of Maidens. Artor has a dream to bring peace to Britannia, so he takes his army to help the Britons settled in Brittany. While he's gone, Medraut seizes power and Qyeen Guendivar. The book proceeds to a satisfying conclusion of this Arthurian tale.

The four books of The Hallowed Isle adds a realistic, mystical story to the Arthurian legend. Diana Paxson created a Historical Fantasy of vivid images, memorable characters and strong themes. The fantasy elements add a special touch to the historical period. One day this series might become a classic in Arthurian literature.

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