Monday 13 February 2012

Book review: Echoes of Avalon.

By Adam Copeland.

Patrick Gawain has always found it hard to hold onto his friends and loved ones. He thinks he has a curse on him that drives away any he dares to become close to. His only solution is to keep to himself and never again search for a true love like the one he once lost. The Irish nobleman, back from the Crusades, suffers the after effects of a time of hardship and war. His shipmates whisper about the silent Patrick. Throughout the journey to Avalon all he does it sit and stare as though there is a demon watching him. It is unnerving and the crew is already wary of anyone travelling to Avalon.

Little do they know that Patrick really is staring at a “creature of nightmare”, his own personal Apparition that no one else can see. It never harms him; it never speaks to him, just hovers out of reach and watches him. Patrick has no explanation for the demon. He has been suffering from fever and once thought the Apparition a banshee, come to herald his death. But still Patrick lives, and now he sails for the mythical island of Avalon to serve as a soldier in a different kind of army.

Recruited into the reserves of the Avangarde, a special order of knights that dwell on Avalon and provide protection and education to foreign nobles, Patrick finds himself drawn farther and farther into the fey myths that still exist in the mists and forests that surround Greensprings Keep. As time goes on his inability to make friends and find love become more poignant, and later more of a hindrance, once an evil god has set his sights on Avalon. Unwittingly Patrick ends up in the way and his only option is to face his own demon along with the rest.

For me the most powerful aspect of this book is the use of description and the strength of the visual imagery. Avalon and the strange elements of the fey that abound on the island are the perfect ingredients for creating powerful portrayals of the action as Patrick journeys and encounters demons more dangerous than his own Apparition. As the action progresses, the tension increases and the story, which perhaps felt a little slow in places near the beginning where back story and legend were revealed, dramatically unfolds to a final confrontation with a slowly-developing antagonist that really comes into his own.

The historical background of the Crusades and the medieval feel of this book are certainly fitting with the rising trend in fantasy towards historical fiction, and Echoes of Avalon has much to offer. With a protagonist that definitely grows in strength of character and becomes more likeable as the story progresses, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys myths and legends wrapped up in a fantasy narrative.

Elloise Hopkins.

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