Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: _Brightly Burning_ by Mercedes Lackey

Being tormented by bullies in schools has led to several tragedies in recent years. The importance of preventing this is one of the central themes of Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey. This is a stand alone tale in Mr. Lackey’s Fantasy world of Valdemar. It is the story of Herald Lavan Firestorm. The book is an entertaining different addition to this world because of its characters, plot and themes.

Characters in the book are well drawn and three dimensional. Lavan Chitward is the son of cloth makers. He has no interest in the family business and is a sixteen year old adolescent in search of a purpose in life. Ms. Lackey describes his problems and character very well. She adds other characters that flesh out the story. There is Herald Pol, a middle a Pged man that becomes Lan’s mentor. Kalira is Lan’s Companion who gives Lan a stable, loving focus in his life. All of the characters help the plot move along quickly.

Ms. Lackey develops an entertaining plot for this book. Lan’s parents send him to a school so he will not languish at home. He is subjected to cruel bullies at school that torment him and make him sick with terrible headaches. His suffering leads to the awakening of his dangerous fire talent. Later, he gains his Companion Kalira and begins his training as a Herald. War with Karse looms on the horizon, providing Lan with new obstacles in his life. The author deftly manipulates the plot elements to create an interesting tale of adventure.

Lastly, the characters and plot combine to give emphasis to the important themes of the book. Lan suffers at the hand of bullies that en Kds in tragedy. He must deal with his hard to control gift through the adversity of coming of age. Along the way he faces persecution from an obsessed enemy and then must confront a war. The themes have resonance with things adolescents must face in our modern day world. These themes are presented in a subtle, appealing way by the author.

Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey is an entertaining addition to the Fantasy world of Valdemar. Readers learn about a time not covered in the other books. Ms. Lackey weaves sympathetic characters, an interesting plot and timely themes into a sad tale with life affirming values. Sentimental readers should keep a box of tissues by their side while reading this book. It is well worth the time spent in the effort. The story of Lavan Firestorm is memorable. Check it out if you get the chance.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Review: _Dreams of the Compass Rose_ by Vera Nazarian

Have you ever had a vivid dream where it stays in your memory for a long time? Many Fantasy books have been inspired by author’s dreams that have become good works. _Dreams of the Compass Rose_ by Vera Nazarian was inspired by a dream. This book is a collection of short stories set in the Fantasy world of the Compass Rose, an exotic place of deserts and other landscapes where the gods interact with mortal humans. Ms. Nazarian presents each story as a dream. Nearly every story is a memorable tale filled with interesting characters and powerful themes.

“Sailing the Eye of Sun” is the story of a ship captain and a young man with great powers. Lero is the captain of an unsinkable ship. She has sailed the sea for many years with a loyal crew, but is considered insane because she is married to her ship. One day, she takes on the transport of a passenger. He is a young man with great magical power going to a schoo l to be trained before he loses control. The loss of control could destroy the world. A conflict of wills ensues in this remarkable story. It is highly memorable with masterful scenes of the sea voyage told in vivid words.

The author explores the theme of how a goddess might be born through human tragedy in the story “Goddessday.” Ailsan is the queen of Risei. Only she and her son are the last survivors of their people after a large battle. The people have been slaughtered by the conqueror Cireive who desires to rule the entire world. He is obsessed with having the beautiful Ailsan yield to him. Obsession and tragedy leads to a strong tale of mythic themes. Characters play off each other in a delicate dance of death. Ms. Nazarian’s descriptions are colorful and alive through her talented skill, bringing this bittersweet tale to a wonderful conclusion.

Nadir is a young boy who walks out of the desert with a mangy pack beast and a cup that keeps filling with water. At the oasis, he sees a beautiful horse that is a trapped god and longs to be free. “Tale of Nadir” tells the story of Nadir as he is tricked by villainous men and learns valuable lessons when he gets trapped into being a playmate to the vicious princess Egiras. This story begins a cycle of stories about the character Nadir at various points in his life serving Egiras. Ms. Nazarian continues providing an interesting story with her descriptive talent.

“City of No-Sleep” is the story of a strange city. The people live in hear and do not sleep. Their king is insane and every time he sleeps at night his dreams change the landscape of the city. Lives are ruined every day because of this phenomena. An assassin comes to the city to kill the king and free the people. One of the loyal king’s guards, Ierulann, tries to stop the assassin. This is a moving story with overtones of how change affects people. Its interesting setting makes the story unforgettable.

Words of storytellers can change the world. Annaelit is a storyteller of great talent. She likes telling humourous stories, making special fun of one of the gods. Her life changes one night when the god of leftover things comes into her life to teach her a lesson. This story is humourous in places, but makes important points about making fun of the gods. Readers will find this story entertaining and a nice addition to the collection.

_Dreams of the Compass Rose_ by Vera Nazarian is an excellent Mythic Fantasy collection of short stories. There are too many great stories in the book to discuss in this article. I found all of the stories entertaining and memorable. Vera Nazarian has created an engrossing book of dreams with vivid, unforgettable characters and themes, and a different Fantasy world of the Compass Rose. I highly recommend this book to readers. The book is available in trade paperback and as an E-book at: