The Road to Grafenwohr – One of my favorite Patterson Novels
Rating: 5 of 5 stars, TMBOA Recommended!
Author: Edward C. Patterson
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Traveling to his unit in post war Germany, Quincy Summerson finds the locals, their heritage, language, architecture, and culture fascinating. They too, find him of great interest given the unique birthmark displayed prominently on his cheek which legend portends it to be a harbinger for both great evil and good. Quincy’s journey takes him further and further into heart of Bavaria as visions begin to plague him. As they increase in frequency and violence Quincy learns he has been called not just to serve the United States but an even higher purpose.
Readers may be initially turned off by the title of Patterson’s latest work. But I must say, this was one of my favorites from him. Patterson takes his expert prose and characterization skills and infuses them into an intriguing setting of a young man stationed in Germany during the height of the cold war with an eclectic group of roommates where everyone prays to avoid reassignment to Vietnam—except for one man. Sprinkle in some fantasy elements and Patterson has created a genre I’ve not previously experienced but very much enjoyed.
The plot is very tight and the storyline moves. If you already are a Patterson fan, I think you will definitely enjoy The Road to Grafenwohr. If you’ve never read him and you are looking for something different, give this one a try – you won’t be disappointed.
Choices Meant for Kings – Book two in the trilogy
Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Sandra Lender
Available: Hardcover, Kindle
As intricate and complex prophecy unfolds, Amanda Chariss – goddess of war – must protect the god Rohne from evil forces though her own magic (geasa) has been substantially hampered. While war builds on the horizon between the weakened gods and ever stronger evil sorcery Julette and her minions, Chariss must build an alliance to have any hope of survival. But there are those within the ranks of the gods who may do not always have the best interest of Rohne and Chariss in mind threatening their plans. All the while Chariss and Nigel Taiman fight to hold on to their love against the wishes of many and perhaps the prophecy itself.
Choices Meant For Kings is book two in Sandy Lender’s Choices trilogy. I would advise readers to make sure to read the first book of this series before picking up the second installment. The world is complex with a number of interwoven plots, relationships, and characters that were initially a challenge for me to understand given I had not read the first book. The author does do a nice job providing the cast of characters and such at the beginning to lay a foundation, but to fully appreciate how this world evolves, Choices Meant for Gods is essential.
Though a fantasy novel, the draw to this book is the romance between Chariss and Nigel. At each step along the way, another roadblock is placed in front of them as they struggle to begin their life together. Wars, other would be suitors, hidden secrets revealed, their responsibilities to others, and a complex prophecy all challenge their future. It is this thread between them that provides the driving force moving the story forward. The conclusion of this book is a high action and suspenseful series of events that will certainly cause readers to rush out and purchase the last installment. An enjoyable read all around.
Curse of the Tahiera – A Dreamwalk Through Past Lives
Rating: 4.5 of 5
Author: Wendy Gilisse
Despised due to his Tzanatzi heritage, Rom made his living as best he could by trading and selling goods in the northern and southern Einache villages alternating between them as the seasons changed. However, while preparing to travel North directly through the bordering forest, Rom learns that this journey has become increasingly treacherous as an evil presence felt once long ago appears to be rising once again. An old Einache farmer named Yldich befriends Rom offering to accompany him on his journey. Soon Rom learns, however, that Yldich is more mage than farmer having the ability to commune with nature, call upon the animals, and sense the very fabric of all that surround them. When Rom starts to experience his own dreamwalking, he begins to wonder if perhaps his meeting Yldich is something more than a simple chance encounter with a good Samaritan. In fact, Rom learns he may hold the answer to a five hundred year old curse that threatens to destroy the lives of the Einache and Tzanatzi alike.
Wendy Gillissen’s Curse of the Tahiera is a unique and fresh offering to the fantasy genre. In this debut novel, Gillissen pulls from her experience as a psychologist specializing in dreamwork and past life therapy. Through Rom the reader slowly discovers the possibilities of past lives and the impact on their contemporary vessels – how decisions made long ago have far reaching implications. While fantasy elements are present, this novel is really a character exploration of a young ostracized man dealing with his negative self view so long forged through the eyes of others and their prejudices. Through Yldich and his own inner journey, he begins to view himself and his past self differently giving context to a life previously without meaning.
Gillissen’s pace and plot unfold in an effortless manner keeping the pages turning at a rapid rate. Her detailed and carefully considered narrative and use of Tzanatzi and Einache languages help to envelope the reader into this unique world. The passages where she shares Rom’s emotional and physical journey through his first intimate experience and later love interest are exceptionally well written. Rom’s journey to the underworld is especially well crafted besting that offered by Phillip Pullman in The Amber Spyglass.
Curse of the Tahiera is a complete volume although Gillissen provides a few teaser pages for the sequel The Search for Tzanata to be published soon. I for one, look forward to its release.
The Dragon’s Pool – The China Hands Reconnoiter
Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Edward C. Patterson
Available: Paperback, Kindle
After saving the world and fulfilling the warrants in The Third Peregrination (Book 2 of the Jade Owl Legacy Series), Rowden Gray welcomes a more traditional domestic life. Expecting his second child and preparing for a new display as curator at the museum, all seems well. Yet Rowden’s dreams foretell a future adventure and he wonders why it is the gifts of telekinesis and telepathy bestowed upon him by the now silent artifacts remain. For Nick Battle however, these are more than just questions but a curse. Blessed with similar gifts, Nick dons a mask and cape living out his nights as a vigilante attempting to right the worlds wrongs one incident at a time. Around the world, the other China Hands are once again inexplicably drawn to one another to not only save loved ones from the clutches of time but complete a new warrant involving an even greater power than they had previously encountered or expected.
In this third installment of the Jade Owl Legacy, Edward C. Patterson once again delivers on an intriguing fantasy. Whereas the first two books focus around the relics which drive much of the story, this book takes a moment to fill in the back story for the main characters. Patterson weaves a complex and detailed tapestry of families, legend, history, destiny, politics, love interests, and conspiracy all with an international flair including the requisite destinations of San Francisco and China with substantial time also dedicated to Italy. This book brings back some of the strongest characters from the first book including Nick’s partner Simone and many of the others who were either not mentioned or had small parts in the second offering. As usual, Patterson’s descriptions, characters, and cadence bring great texture to a very unusual, educational, and engaging story.
While the first two books could likely be read independently, I think this book is best enjoyed if the previous books are read first. Also, a companion series (the Southern Swallow Series) provides readers with additional information explaining the origins of the relics and the references to the key characters referenced throughout the Jade Owl Series.
Patterson has truly created an expansive and epic series with the Jade Owl Legacy. Though all warrants appear closed at the end of this installment, Patterson throws in a unexpected twist at the end leaving the door open for the next adventure.
Griffin’s Shadow – An Ancient Evil Grows in Power!
Rating: 5 of 5, TMBOA Recommended
Author: Leslie Ann Moore
Deep in the bowels of The Black Tower, the elfin magic imprisoning an ancient evil is weakening. Using it’s power of projection, the evil finds an accomplice to help in recapturing and releasing the key to it’s power. Jelena Preseren, the half-elf and half-human unwitting vessel of the key, begins her training to unlock the power of her long dormant magically Talent. Because of her newly acquired position in elf society she also become a beacon of hope for the half breed elfin people who crave equality with the pure blood elves; though not all elves accept her and an secret conspiracy begins forms. Meanwhile, humans and elves prepare for war and Ashinji – a pure blood elf and Jelena’s love interest – struggles to survive and return to his people.
Leslie Ann Moore’s Griffin’s Shadow picks up where Griffin’s Daughter left off. I enjoyed the first book, but this chapter in the trilogy is even better. While the first installment introduced the foundational elements of the story, it’s focus was primarily on the love interest between Jelena and Ashinji. However, this novel injects considerably more fantasy elements such as the ancient evil sorcery as it grows in power. The treachery and betrayal of family, politics, power of the ruling class, cruelty of prejudice, remorse of lost love, and overall action and tension is ramped and builds throughout the multiple story arcs.
Griffin’s Shadow is a masterfully crafted fantasy adventure which immerses readers in it’s characters and wonderfully created universe. Once again, Moore seamlessly weaves in issues of prejudice while advancing the story. My only complaint is I have to wait for the next book to see how this all resolves! Most of the story arcs are left open at conclusion of this novel. It left me with the same feeling I had at the end of The Empire Strikes Back when I first saw it as a kid having to wait for the release of the then final chapter of the series.
Griffin’s Daughter is an award winning novel and Griffin’s Shadow is more than worthy of additional national acclaim.
Griffin’s Daughter – Award Winning Fantasy!
Rating: 5 of 5, TMBOA Recommended
Author: Leslie Ann Moore
Being half-elf and half -human, Jelena Preseren lives life ridiculed and looked down upon by others. Though her mother, who died giving birth to her, was the sister of the Duke of Amsara, this does little for Jelena who is forced to live her days working in the castle scullery. Her only friend is her cousin Magnes who sees beyond her lineage. Though she accepts her lot in life as a servant, Jelena draws the line when her uncle the Duke decides to sell her as a concubine. She decides to flee and search for her Elven father.
Having learned of his own arranged marriage to someone other than his true love, Magnes joins Jelena. While on their quest, Jelena discovers a strange power locked deep inside her. Little does she know, that she is the vessel containing the magic from an ancient evil sorcerer banished centuries earlier but whose soul lives on searching for the key to his release.
Ashinji Sakehera, second son of an Elven Duke, is troubled by continued dreams of a girl he has yet to meet. Once he and Jelena’s worlds collide, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But how can a half-elf woman who is ostracized by both human and elf society ever have a romantic future with nobility?
Leslie Ann Moore’s Griffin’s Daughter is the first novel in a three part series. It sets up a number of story arcs only one of which is closed at the books conclusion. So be prepared to run out to purchase book two (which is also very good – see my review for Griffin’s Shadow). Moore’s prose is refined and sets the tone and mood for the novel. Apart from the good story telling, and wonderful fantasy elements, I really enjoyed the way Moore weaves in the personal impact of prejudice. Jelena is mistreated in both human and elven societies belonging to neither. What is so sad is Jelena believes herself inferior because of the way others see and treat her. No matter how much her cousin Magnes tells her otherwise or even her love Ashinji, Jelena truly believes she is not worthy of the love and friendship from those around her – all because of how she is treated by the majority. What a wonderful glimpse into how prejudice is felt by those who experience it.
Moore’s debut novel earned her the 2008 Ben Franklin Award for Best First Fiction and it’s easy to see why. This is a good book and the second installment is even better. Please note, this may not be a suitable read for some younger readers as there are some adult themes presented occasionally throughout the story. For those who enjoy a good, well written fantasy, pick up a copy of Griffin’s Daughter.