Sunday, October 20, 2013

Review: "Hunter" Books by Michelle West

_Hunter's Oath_ and _Hunter's Death_ are a Fantasy duology written by Michelle West. They are actually one complete book split into two. Both tell the epic story of two young men in a complex Fantasy world of gods, magic, intrigue and adventure. Strong themes, characters and setting give these books a memorable quality for readers.

Stephen is discovered living on the streets of the King's city of Breodanir. The Hunter Lord Soredon takes him to Elseth to become Huntbrother to his son Gilliam. _Hunter's Oath_ goes on to tell the story of these young men, their bonded friendship and growing involvement in a greater battle against the evil god Allasakar and his demons. This involves complications with other characters in a complex setting.

Michelle West has created a world where the gods affect the lives of their people. Breodanir is run on the concept of Hunter Lords and Huntbrothers. The Hunter Lords are sworn to their god to take part in a Sacred Hunt once a year and be subjected to being hunted by their god, facing the Hunter's Death. Huntbrothers take an oath to protect their Hunter, be their friend and help them for life. Other gods take a hand in the world by having half-human children with mortals.

In _Hunter's Death_, the setting shifts to Averalaan, the capital city of an empire. It is ruled by twin kings and possesses rules of formality. Here Stephen and Gilliam move through an ever increasing battle against the demons. They are on a deadline before they must return home or forsake their lands forever.  Many characters are involved in their struggle.

The main characters are helped or prodded by many realistic characters. Evayne is s time-traveling seer and mage that interferes in the other character's lives to complete her goal. Jewel Markess is the tough leader of a street gang who discovers secrets and discovers the meaning of loyalty. Kallandres is an assassin turned bard, tormented by the betrayal of his brothers. Readers will find these and many others to admire and sympathize with in the books.

The underlying themes of these books are their greatest strength. West created a powerful work with her themes of friendship, loyalty, honor and sworn oaths. These are helped by interesting cultures and religions. The author has some thoughtful things to say about religion and promises.

Readers will get a memorable experience in these books. There is enough action, magic and adventure to hook a reader into a thrill ride hard to forget. Characters, settings and complex themes combine to give these books a depth found in few books today. Readers won't be disappointed. Michele West is a writer not to be missed.

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