Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: _The Dark Glory Wary_ by Michael Stackpole

Becoming an adult in the modern world is easy by turning eighteen. There are no ceremonies to the process. In the fantasy realm of Oriosa, young people are given a moon mask and must pass a month of initiation into adulthood. Four young men face this in The Dark Glory War by Michael Stackpole, which changes their lives forever. Readers will find this book suspenseful from the characters, plot and themes.

The characters in the book help create suspense due to likability. Told in the first person point of view, readers are introduced to the main character of Tarrant Hawkins. He is a young man undergoing his month to adulthood. Tarrant is a loyal friend and level headed person that undergoes severe trials that change him. His closest friend is Leigh, the son of a noble. Leigh is flamboyant and brave, tempered by Tarrant’s friendship. A third friend is Nay, the calm, steady smith with quiet strength. Mr. Stackpole brings these characters to life in a timely fashion that gets readers to sympathize with them, which creates suspense through their experiences.

Next, the author creates a strong action plot full of suspense. Tarrant and his friends are taken out of the city for an initial trial. They end up in a fight for survival with a dangerous monster. This experience propels them into adulthood quickly by being included in a trip to the capital city to warn the queen of the monsters. On their journey they fight a desperate battle in the ruins of an ancient city where Tarrant meets the elf Resolute. From there, the young men find themselves quickly becoming warriors in the war against the evil empress Chytrine of Aurolan as she invades the realms of the south. The author weaves an engaging plot through tight, vivid descriptions that keeps readers turning pages.

Finally, the themes of the book create suspense because readers can relate to them. The characters must face their coming-of-age. In their society, they where masks at different stages of life. Every experience adds to the mask. Each character faces events that change them. Loyalty is another theme of the book. Tarrant, Leigh and Nay remain loyal to each other despite strains on their close friendships. Mr. Stackpole weaves these themes subtly into the book through the vivid incidents and characters’ reactions, which makes it have more tension.

The Dark Glory War by Michael Stackpole is an action packed novel full of suspense. Characters, plot and themes make the book suspenseful and ultimately entertaining. Mr. Stackpole is an excellent Fantasy author that uses his experiences to create books that keep readers hooked until the end. This book is a prequel to the Dragoncrown trilogy, which continues the story of some of the characters begun here.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Book Review: _The Winter Rose_ by Patricia McKillip

A young woman runs wild through the woods and stops to sit by a hidden well overgrown with roses. One fine summer day as she sits by the well, she sees a strange young man step out of the sunlight. He looks otherworldly. His arrival begins events that will change lives. The Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip is a beautifully written fairy tale Fantasy of mysteries, change and winter. Memorable characters, a vivid setting and mystery plot makes the book on entertaining story of wonder.

Memorable characters gives readers focus points and interesting people to stay with the book until the end. Rois is the youngest sister of two with a caring father who is a farmer. She spends most of her time wandering the forest barefoot, exploring and collecting medicinal plants. Her family gets exasperated with her wild ways. Gifted with a strange magic, Rois can see things which drives her restless spirit, especially in winter. Laurel is the older sister, practical and engaged to be married. She is the foundation of her family that keeps them balanced. These two sisters encounter Corbet Lynn who affects their lives in different ways. He arrives in the village with a troubled past linked to an old mystery. The author makes these characters believable and sympathetic with her descriptive talent.

Next, Ms. McKillip creates a vivid setting for her story that gives it a strong sense of wonder. This book is set in a quiet farming village near a secretive forest. The forest has many secret places like the hidden well surrounded by roses, which leaves a strong image for readers. Also, the two rooms of Lynn Hall with its things like the magical tapestry seems real. Changing seasons play an important role in the setting too. The story begins in spring, but it is the images of winter that leaves a stronger impression. With added descriptions of the fairy other world, the setting brings the book to life.

Finally, the mystery plot blended with fantasy elements keeps the reader anxiously reading. Rois sees Corbet some out of sunlight one day by the well. She is uncertain about what she saw. Corbet’s appearance brings up the old mystery of his grandfather and the curse upon his family to the villagers. This creates a lot of speculation and sets the whole tale in motion. Rois is attracted to Corbet and becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of his life. Laurel falls in love with Corbet even though she is engaged and pines away for him. All these events dovetail neatly into a satisfying climax with the author’s subtly vivid descriptions.

To conclude, The Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip is a wonderful fairy tale Fantasy that is very thoughtful and full of wonder. The memorable characters, vivid setting and mystery plot makes the book an entertaining read that stays with the reader. Ms. McKillip is an excellent Fantasy author of many thought provoking, descriptive works. Most readers will not be disappointed with this or any other of her books.