Sorrow pervades the isolated temple. The Master is on his deathbed, and all of the monks are in watchful meditation, waiting.
The Guest, who came here for refuge countless ages ago, is sought out by the members of the temple. He who has made this place his home, away from horrified stares and vengeful hunters, is the one visitor the Master must see before he dies.
During his short meeting with the Master, the Guest learns something that surprises him: eternity has more than one definition.
If this short story was crafted to make the reader want to delve into the longer books, entitled “The Chosen Chronicles”, Ms. Dales has done a very good job. The reader can almost smell the incense surrounding the waiting monks, feel the oppression of their sorrow, and get so involved in the narrative that, at the end of the story, will not be satisfied with less than the rest of the series.
I was as surprised as the Guest at the end of the story, and would love to read what happens after the Master dies. For his death brings joy to all—I must know why!
Secluded in an unreachable and mostly-forgotten forest, a thriving society goes about its business. Their people are, for the most part, gifted and special. Education includes practicing and developing their special talents. The rest of the world has forgotten that they even exist.
However, their very presence in the world is essential to its survival. For they hold the key, and the secret, to the workings of black and white magic.
Izanami and Zane are two of the more promising students. Easily mastering the arts of black heka and white heka, inasmuch as anyone can, they are looked up to by the younger students and admired by their peers.
These two lives are changed forever as the result of a practice fight between the two of them. They are struck by more force than either thought they were capable of, and plunged into a world between life and death.
In this realm, Izanami meets her Beast Guardian, a chimera named Amyntas, and learns that she is much more than a mere teenage girl in the Red Mage line. When she awakens at last and tells the elders what has happened, they know without a doubt that she is the prophesied Warrior of Light.
Not much later than this, the village is attacked by outsiders, and Izanami and Zane are plucked out of the melee by Amyntas and set down near the outskirts of a city. Here they meet General Kyros, who introduces them to his King. They plan together to rescue the youngsters who have been taken by the enemy forces.
Bad becomes worse, as the rescuers learn who they are up against, and that he holds a mysterious pendant that turns the Mage Warriors powerless.
Returning, wounded and disheartened, they soon learn that their enemy has loosed an army of his own making, and that it is heading out to destroy the world. Izanami, in her role of Warrior of Light, takes the lead, albeit reluctantly, with General Kyros by her side and Zane as her protector.
War comes to the city–and the villagers, young and old, take up the fight. Success will go to the most powerful–or will it?
Wow, what a terrific book. I took my time reading it, because there is so much rich detail and fantastic storyline. In my opinion, this is one book that would make an excellent graphic novel. I could really see every character in my mind’s eye–their loves, their fears, their insecurities, and their bravery. Their interactions with each other made them even more memorable.
It’s definitely a Part I–readers should keep in mind that, like Tolkien, some stories cannot be contained in one book. This is one series I really need to keep reading–I hope Ms. Buchynski has another one up her sleeve!
Rarely am I tempted to call in sick to work to finish a book. This was one of those books. (Not that I did.)
Readers who like “epic journey” or “quest” books, along the lines of “The Lord of the Rings”, would love this story. But it is so different from the usual cast of characters. And the reason behind the journey they embark upon is one that I haven’t seen before, at least not exactly with the same background.
Porter Collins is a young man who was taken in as a young child by the Slayers, and raised by the party line: all Mythics are bad, violent, out to destroy all humans, and must be destroyed at every chance.
Hidden elsewhere, Sarah Heisen is a Sphinx who wants nothing more than to see the world. Her parents know the dangers outside of their mansion’s walls, and keep her close.
But the safety net breaks, and Porter and Sarah meet under the worst of circumstances. When Sarah teleports out of the danger zone, she inadvertently takes an unconscious Porter with her. He wakes up with no memory of who he is or why he is with Sarah. All he remembers is his name.
Sarah, for her part, has no idea where she is. Emergency teleportation can do that to a person. She considers killing Porter; after all, those humans were so horrible and nasty–or so she’d been brought up to believe. But she decides against it, hoping she doesn’t regret her decision later on. It seems to her that she is safe as long as his memory doesn’t return.
They set out on their journey to find a hidden Mythic center, hoping to find a way back to Sarah’s parents. On the way, they meet elves, goblins, a Soul Smith named Droma, a chimera by the name of Tick, and a tower full of Mythics and humans living happily together.
All along the way, Porter is trying to remember his past, while Droma and Sarah hope that he does not. Neither knows what will happen if he does. But when Sarah is captured, and Porter shows his cold-blooded Slayer’s talents to rescue her, it becomes imperative that his memory remains hidden - if only for his own safety in that land of mythical creatures.
But their concern becomes moot when they are suddenly attacked by other Slayers, who have found their way there through the forced cooperation of the inhabitants of the forest that Porter and Sarah have wandered through. We leave our heroes fleeing the murderers, with Sarah having learned the full history of the war between the Mythics and the Slayers.
This story, as I mentioned above, was so captivating that nothing else seemed important. The characters were so vivid, and the growing relationship between Sarah and Porter was just right. And the companionship grows into friendship very slowly, as one would expect from the way they originally met.
The lesson is plainly seen, through deftly written words: that every individual should be accepted as who he or she is–not because of background or gender, or nationality. To pre-judge someone because of his/her ancestry is just wrong. Prejudice bred by generations of people adding rumor to half-truths has destroyed so many lives and relationships, and has no place in a world that has enough room for everyone.
Droma’s words to his fellow adventurers ring true, and is prevalent throughout the book: “All creatures are placed on earth for a purpose, even if we cannot see that purpose. To say otherwise is to say that their purpose is inadequate.”
I have to agree one-hundred percent. Thanks for a great story, Mr. Bolander!
First of all, I would like to say that Marie’s last name goes very well with her genre of choice. (SimmMEOW…)
That being said, on with the review:
Kicked out from their home by an uncaring family member, two kittens are left on their own to survive. With very little experience in the outside world, they are reduced to eating grass and licking up rain puddles to keep alive from one frightening day to the next.
Until the day someone picks them up and takes them to a shelter. Cowering and afraid, overwhelmed by smells foreign and dangerous (to them), the sisters huddle together in their captivity, not knowing what will come their way next.
Assurances from the other cats in the room, regular (but insubstantial) food, and interaction with humans help the kits adjust to life within walls again. They start to take an interest in their surroundings, especially the various attitudes of the humans who come to see them. It is highly fortunate, in a couple of cases, that the shelter insists on a background check on families and individuals who come in to adopt cats. There are those whose outward attitudes and/or inner animosity make all of the shelter dwellers nervous; when they are turned away, all of the cats sigh with relief.
The two sisters begin to think that they will be spending the rest of their lives in their ample, but dreary, cage. Then one day a woman and her mother come in and change their lives completely.
One sister, now called Athena–the narrator of this tale–finds herself in a new home, surrounded by food, toys, her own pillow, and all the love she could ever want.
Then suddenly she is in the carrying cage again. Athena worries that she has somehow angered her women. Will she be thrown into the shelter again? Or worse? Will she ever see her warm, comfortable home again?
One of the things I loved most about this book was the pictures of Athena, whose fictional past and true present are told in these pages. I could really feel the emotions this kitty was feeling, as she survives the fierce outdoors, protects her sister, gets used to the dreary but safe protection of the shelter, and experiences the ups and downs of beginning to trust again.
I am really hoping that Ms. Symeou writes a follow-up story, fictionalizing what happens with the other kit. Like Athena, I do worry about her.