Friday, June 13, 2008

Review: _The Outstretched Shadow_ by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory

Imagine growing up in a city where magic provides all the comforts for the citizens. The High Mage’s council decides everything for the good of the populace. There is no change allowed at any time. Darkness looms on the horizon. The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory is an Epic Fantasy novel that is the first book in the “Obsidian Mountain” trilogy. This novel is a strong epic because of its characters, plot and themes.

The characters in the book help to give it an epic feel by being likable and sympathetic. Kellen, the main character, is seventeen and feels stifled in the city of Armathelieh. He is the son the Arch Mage, pushed to emulate his father in every way. Immensely bored, Kellen wishes he could leave the city but it is forbidden. His pursuits to find a purpose for his life leads him to a different magic that changes his life. Idalia is a Wild Mage living in the forest. She is a strong independent woman that has a settled life. Her life becomes disrupted when she is uprooted from her home due to events and she must struggle with emotions and problems that arise in the upheaval. The authors describe the characters’ lives vividly, building their personalities slowly as the conflicts of the plot increase.

The plot has an epic quality because it builds slowly to an impressive conclusion. Beginning slowly, readers see Kellen living in the stifling city of Armethalieh, trying to live up to his father’s expectations. His discovery of the three books of Wild Magic set him on an epic path to his destiny. Outlawed by the Council of High Mages, Kellen flees into the wilderness and finds new avenues for his life. Events caused by the machinations of the Demons leads Kellen to his fate as he tries to save the elves. Building the plot slowly, the authors creates a interesting story that moves toward a satisfying ending.

Finally, the themes explored in the book makes it a strong epic. One of the themes is coming-of-age. Kellen begins his growth as a seventeen year old realizing the corruption of the city. His life changes as he is thrust out into eh world and he deals with his growing magic talent Another theme is the battle between good and evil. Savage Demons also known as the Endarkened have been in exile for centuries. Their queen is subtly moving on her plans to take control of the world by corrupting human mages and trying to weaken the elves. The forces of good are badly fragmented due to mistrust and hatred between the many races. Themes are woven into the story by the authors for a compelling epic

The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory is the first book of of the “Obsidian Mountain” trilogy. This collaboration of two authors creates an interesting start to an Epic Fantasy series. Characters, plot and themes blend to make the book a strong epic novel that is entertaining. Readers will enjoy following the characters in their conflicts with the demons.

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