Kathryn Berryman’s Erinland infuses Christianity into ancient rites while catapulting 21st Century characters into a 9th Century Viking war. Two teens, Amy and Richard, serve as threads in an intricate tapestry of historical fiction. Sharing the weave is Aiden, a monk protecting valuable antiquities with his life.
The story moves along through the points of view of one of the three most important characters. When Amy and Richard land in their respective, opposing villages, they are fully embraced. Both are long-awaited reincarnations of gods of the time. We’d expect the teenagers to feel displaced and confused, but they adapt quickly.
Berryman provides much in the way of Viking history, landscape, and relic description. Erinland is driven by her vast interest in these. We learn much lore through the tale of these ordinary, troubled children endowed with extraordinary powers from the glorious beings they represent. Berryman’s depictions of the cultures during the time are lovely and detailed as she describes their villages, clothing, and lifestyles. “The kransen, a gilt circlet worn on the head by unmarried girls, is removed from the young bride to be. It is a symbol of her virginity. The kransen is wrapped up by the bride’s attendants and put away until the birth of her eldest daughter who it will pass to.” (Page 194).
In Berryman’s desire to share her knowledge, she writes long monologues. These establish her as a credible authority on ancient history, but do so at the expense of natural dialogue. After suddenly being transported in time, the three primary characters are plunked down and force-fed tons of information. “Richard listened closely to Vagn as he spoke. It was a lot of information to absorb.” (Page 325).
The lack of meaningful exchanges sacrifices character development. This is particularly true for Amy, but less so for Richard. Relating to the characters is essential for us to want to read on.
Because war is the foundation of the plot, we may find it difficult to suspend belief when we are told the teens can learn how to become warriors in a few afternoons. Berryman relies upon descendent memory to take care of the problem. “Familiarise yourself with our ways. Your memories will return. A son of Odin retains his father’s essence and with it his memories and might.” (Page 183).
In the end Erinland is a fascinating story that fuses mythology with well-choreographed battle scenes.
Pages: 278 | ASIN: B01MR9IAQL
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Theodore Singer’s Jabberwocky: A Novella is an engaging, entertaining journey that feels like an epic saga; but without the page count. Contained in the few pages of this novella is a world full of intrigue and mystery. The story follows Astreus, heir to the House of the Jabberwock as he embarks on a quest that has been reduced to nothing more than ceremony. At the tender age of eighteen he has come of age and while his father and grandfather expect him to take his place in their world he opts instead to take on the Quest of finding and killing the Jabberwocky. While it comes as a shock to his family, Astreus labors forward in his romantic notion of fulfilling the quest that has been passed down for generations. Taking up the Vorpal Sword, the only blade capable of separating the Jabberwocky’s head from it’s body, Astreus leaves his cozy privileged life behind for the sake of the quest.
Singer does a fantastic job drawing the reader into his tale. There is very little dialogue throughout the novella so we are left with his amazing descriptions that make the words jump off the page.
Singer takes us on a journey of the strange world Astreus lives in. In the beginning it seems like a stereotypical medieval setting as our protagonist leaves his castle behind and journeys to a mysterious island. There, he becomes embroiled in a cruel test of his mettle while his emotions are toyed with and he learns that there is far more to the world than what he has read in his books at home. After leaving the island we come to a strange city occupied by psychic cats and their human servants. Our protagonist continues to grow and develop quite nicely. Nothing is forced or feels contrived at this point. Singer does a great job keeping the human development part of his tale as realistic as possible. Beyond the city of cats is a valley of certain death. Astreus continues to chase the tales and whispers of the Jabberwocky’s path in an eager effort to fulfill his quest.
Theodore Singer does as fantastic job with this tale that keeps the reader wanting more. Even with everything that happens in the tale the reader is not left feeling overwhelmed or left with questions beyond what imagination can answer. The nice thing about it being a novella is that you can allow yourself to get completely consumed without losing hour after hour of your day. Even the unexpected resolution of the Quest fits perfectly in these pages. It is a fantastic, compact tale of wonder and fantasy.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B00TUFU8YE
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At first glance this novel looks like a story taken from the world of Tolkien, you have trolls, mortals, a mystical race of beings that live in the woods, talking animals, and a quest. That, however, is where the similarities end. L.J.Francis has managed to create in Horatio Hobbs and the Calimor, a magical world that will appeal to readers of all ages. Francis brings in some of the traditional magic and creatures that people come to expect in fantasy novels, such as the trolls and elf like beings, but he turns many of the stereotypes of these fictional beings around. Nothing is as simple as it seams in the sleepy town of Drinkwater and the feared forest of Shadowmere.
Horatio is a young boy about to turn sixteen. In the town of Drinkwater, sixteen is when you become an adult to the community. He was raised by his grandfather Theodore Hobbs. You learn in the book that his mother died during child birth, as for his father, well you will have to read the book to find out what happened to him. Theodore Hobbs is a master furniture maker, and excels in his craft. He is known far and wide for his skill and ability to create the perfect item. At the center of this novel is one of his works of art. The mayoral throne. Unbeknownst to Theodore, he has carved this throne from magical wood. The tree that this wood came from is also the source of a magical acorn, the Calimor, that is delivered to Horatio by a fox. This acorn has a magical and devastating story.
The epic journey begins with Horatio setting out with his pony Thomas for the mysterious woods of Shadowmere. These woods are dark, thick, and filled with magic. The Bloodeye trolls make their home in Shadowmere. The leader of the Bloodeye, King Bovik, hates the mystical race of Eldrin that live in a protected area of Shadowmere called Celeste. When word gets back to him that Horatio has something from Celeste and is headed there King Bovik decides he will intercept Horatio and get information from him on how to destroy the Eldrin. The Bloodeye’s pursuit of Horatio and Thomas lead them on further adventures and bring them into contact with several interesting characters. One character that I feel offers the most passion and heart is Krunger, the exiled Bloodeye troll.
Francis’s ability to portray the relationship between Krunger and Horatio speaks volumes. These two characters couldn’t be more different on the outside but inside share the same goals and passions. The transformation both characters must go through is immense and will pull at the reader’s compassion and provide a renewed sense of hope.
Overall L.J. Francis gives readers a new look in the fantasy novel realm. He turns traditional character rolls around and offers a brightened future for the lands he creates. The easy reading style and lack of extreme gore from fighting scenes makes this novel appropriate for young adult readers. The complex character development and unique plot makes it appealing for adult fantasy novel followers. This book leaves the reader with just enough questions to look forward to the second installment that L.J. Francis is currently working on, but offers a conclusion to the story line in this novel. A well written novel with the promise of more adventures to come.
Pages: 284 | ASIN: B01D1XNPOA
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