Saturday, March 19, 2011

Michelle West

Fantasy authors create imaginative worlds and populate them with interesting characters. Readers flock to these worlds in great numbers to get away from reality for a short time. One Fantasy author that creates intriguing worlds and cultures is Michelle Sagara West. She brings her works to life with vivid, detailed prose that captures the imagination. Her books have strong themes and not everything is black and white. The books and stories are entertaining, but leave you thinking.

Ms. West wrote her first Fantasy series as Michelle Sagara. The series of The Sundered starts with Into the Darklands. This tells of the battle between the forces of the Bright Heart and the Dark Heart. Erin is a warrior of the Bright Heart and Sarillon or battle leader of the army. She is defeated and captured by Stefanos of the Dark Heart. Renamed Sara, she carries on a strange romance with him. By the end of the book, Stefanos places her in an enchanted sleep. Children of the Blood picks up many years later. Sara awakens from her sleep. She and a boy, Darin, are the only ones left with the powers of Light. They must try to survive in Stefanos’s empire. The third book Lady of Mercy shifts its focus to other characters. Sara and Darin meet a rogue and another man who might have magic that is not of the Light or Dark. Chains of Darkness, Chains of Light brings the series to a conclusion when Sara and King Renar must venture into the Dark Empire to save the last source of the Light.

Her next series is the duology of The Sacred Hunt written as Michelle West. This takes place in a different world. In one kingdom there lives the Hunter Lords. Each Hunter Lord has a companion that follows him. The Hunter Lords and their Huntbrothers must submit themselves once a year to be hunted by the Hunter god. One pair is always sacrificed. Hunter’s Oath is the story of street orphan Stephen who becomes a Huntbrother to Ghilliam of Elseth. Ms. West further deepens the story and adds a new culture in the second book Hunter’s Death. Stephen and Ghilliam must risk breaking their oath when they travel to another city. They face a battle with the evil god Allasakar. The book is full of interesting characters and conflicts with various gods. A lot of court intrigue adds to the story.

Ms. West’s recent series is the Sun Sword. These books focus on the culture and some of the characters from her last book. The Broken Crown takes place fifteen years later and introduces Diora. She possesses the forbidden magical talent of influencing people with her voice. This sets into motion events which might free Allasakar. In the next book, The Uncrowned King, we get the story of Valedan of the Dominion and his struggle against the evil god. Jewel of House Terafin returns in The Shining Courts where she and Avander must face Allasakar too. The latest book, Sea of Sorrows, brings all the characters together from the previous books. They must embark on a quest to find help in the battle against Allasakar that keeps building. All the books contain detailed images and imaginative plots. There should be one more to complete the series.

From the beginning, Michelle Sagara West has been an entertaining author to read. She writes books of involving plots. likable characters and powerful themes with considerable talent. Her works have become increasingly complex and vivid with each new book. Ms. West’s Fantasy worlds are wonderful. Readers will continue to watch her grow for years to come.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Review: _Owlflight_ by Mercedes Lackey

Valdemar is one of the most popular worlds of the Fantasy genre. Author Mercedes Lackey has written many novels set in this world of her creation. Many novels have centered around the Heralds and their magical Companions. Owlflight is the first book of a trilogy that focuses on different cultures of Valdemar through the eyes of new characters. This book is entertaining because of its sympathetic characters, suspenseful plot and a vivid setting.

Ms. Lackey has a talent for creating interesting characters. The characters in this book are very sympathetic, making them likable. Darian is an orphaned teenager living in the village of Errold’s Grove. He is rebellious because the villagers treat him like an outcast. Apprenticed to the old mage Justyn, Darian must grow through his pain. Help comes from a young Hawkbrother named Snowfire who befriends Darian. Several other characters such as the griffin Kelvrin and others round out a group that keeps readers interested in the plot. The author has interesting nonhuman characters as well with the deer-like dyheli and intelligent lizards called the hertasi.

The suspenseful plot begins with an attack by Northern barbarians on the village. Young Darian flees into the forest followed by some of the raiders. Snowfire saves him and brings Darian to his camp. While Darian slowly makes friends, the small contingent of Hawkbrothers must decide how to save the villagers. The barbarians have a powerful mage working for them while the Hawkbrothers have little access to magic because of the Mage Storms. In the end, it comes down to Darian making important decisions to save his people. Plot elements are woven by the author into - the story of a troubled young boy to create a plot that keeps readers turning pages.

Finally, Ms. Lackey’s vivid setting brings the story to life with realistic descriptions. The forest world of the Hawkbrothers is fascinating with their culture. They have large hawks, owls, falcons and other birds that bond with them. A reader can imagine the great forest trees surrounding them like Darian. Descriptions of the village and the Hawkbrother camp are detailed, making the story more suspenseful with them.

Owlflight by Mercedes Lackey is another entertaining addition to the Fantasy world of Valdemar. Sympathetic characters, a suspenseful plot, and a vivid setting hooks the reader into the interesting story of Darian as he comes of age. This book is a good beginning to another trilogy of Valdemar.