Sunday 11 March 2012

Book review: Prince of Bryanae...

By Jeffrey Getzin.

Discipline. That is the word Elven princess turned soldier Willow lives by. Discipline keeps her strong. Discipline keeps her alive. Discipline keeps her past in the past. Willow is far from the classic Elven beauty of fantasy. She is strong, determined and unconcerned with her looks or the opinions of others. She does her duty and she does it well. Until now.

Bryanae is under threat and for some reason Willow cannot act. She wants to, but some familiarity of current events to her past has paralysed her. Whispers and accusations add to her shame. Captain Eric Snyde of Company A openly mocks her and she can do nothing about it. Shielding herself in even more mental armour she shakes off the affections of the one person who truly declares his love for her, the Illuminati Tamlevar.

When barbarians storm the city and kidnap the Prince of Bryanae, once again Willow is struck dumb by her memories and watches helplessly as the prince is snatched away right under her nose. Tamlevar is gravely injured, Willow faces punishment for her ineptitude and the great Warlord is rising. Willow’s only hope now lies in trusting the mage Suel’s sinister blood magic and facing the repressed memories of her past in order to rescue the prince and restore order to her life.

This book came with a warning about the dark nature of some of the events in the story and rightly so, although there was nothing here – no themes, graphic descriptions or heinous acts – that I haven’t come to expect from modern fantasy. This is certainly not your classic fantasy with an elf protagonist type story and for that I was grateful. Rather this is an unusual book in that the main focus is certainly on the growth of the lead character Willow and the story is richly supplemented by the decisions and dangers she is forced to confront.

From the first page I found myself drawn into this world and it was an easy digestible and enjoyable read. In taking Willow on a journey into her repressed memories, Getzin covers serious topics but manages to do so with a narrative tone that is enlightening and, if you could possibly describe it this way, bordering on light hearted. Willow faces some awful truths, there is no getting away from that, but she is a strong character and has an envious ability to rise up after each blow and look for something positive at each step along the way, which works in the author’s favour in terms of the writing and readability.

It was refreshing to read a story about elves that did not conform to the standard conventions and plot points of so many fantasy novels and I would not hesitate to suggest this to anyone who is interested in a more contemporary and realistic character approach to the genre. There is much to recommend it but to describe it in a handful of phrases I would say: character driven, action filled, hero’s journey, well structured, swords and sorcery with a fist full of modern grit to make it stand out.

Elloise Hopkins.

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