I am just stunned. Any book that can keep me from doing what I need to be doing, especially a fantasy which frankly I have avoided because there usually just anything original being written, is a book that should be read. YA Epic Fantasy, not high fantasy, not 900 page EPIC fantasy with convoluted story lines, but a fantasy that is smart and original and not dumbed down for a kid. It made me cry, I mean SOB several times (reaching for my tissues). You just do not find books like this very often these days. Why I waited so long to read the first one I have no idea. And as soon as I finished that one, I dove into this one!
This is the second book in a solid and wonderful high fantasy series. Yes I said it, high fantasy. As I mentioned in the first books review, high fantasy is specifically a form of fantasy which has aspects of what high fantasy is suppose to do. It has characters who are young and not worldly. There are wise mentors with mysterious pasts raising and guiding the youths into the future. A way of life and world is in need of saving and only a few can do it and are prophesied too. There is magic all around and in every part, not just with a wave of a wand or a wiggle of a nose but in the prose. Mystery and darkness, good and evil are present and at odds. Honor, dishonor and a past event which changed the world and paths of all, happened at one point affecting the main players. And the big part?? DRAGONS!
We get to know the characters we have already fallen in love with even more. They grow up and become a bit less moody and brooding. They are not the ones we met at the beginning of the first book. They are growing up and learning what responsibility means. Learning the people they thought were the most important in their life really were trifles. Every page turned I became more and more invested with the characters so when something happened to them I cried, I laughed, and I was crushed along with them no matter what happened. I wish I could give it more than five stars, because this was even better than the first. The editing was superior and you can see the growth. Book three is going to be even more amazing!
...these same dragons had also started rumours that some of them occasionally liked to eat people. Zim, however, was not one of these dragons." - Shadows of the Realm - on the prince of the dragons.
As I have mentioned I love a good epic fantasy. I have to be in the mood to get through the tomes they usually come in. These days you have to put aside vacation time to get through the 800 pager. I am a huge fan of David Eddings and Robert Jordan and Zelazny but the themes are not approachable for all the ages. The Circle of Talia is a series full of easily approachable themes for all ages, absolutely beautiful images, non-complex and easily pronounced names that I know an engaged 13 year old would love. Her descriptions were wonderful, not listing things like you would find on a police blotter. She is able to say how someone looks and how they are as a person all in a couple sentences. (for example)
"...had a short white hair; a long white beard adorned his lined face. He exuded the calm and mystery of a still lake. His dark, intelligent eyes were full of life, twinkling with the promise of jokes yet to be told, mischief yet to be unleashed." Shadows of the Realm - on Agmunsten
Everything which is taken to be the conventions of an epic fantasy novel is here but written with the young adult in mind. She has woven the characters and stories in with humor and given her readers real people to believe in and cheer for. Her teens in this coming of age are real, they grow, learn and realize as the stories go on the world revolves around everyone and more than that, especially in this second of the series. Like any good fantasy, there is much more than meets the eye. These things alone makes the story a wonderful read for young adults! She makes the dragon's a little over the top, superior and full of pomp and circumstance, but best of all, she makes them funny and likeable.
Laughing, crying and cheering them on! I was brought along into this incredible realm which is laying on the brink of destruction... from what? Oh you go pick these two books up and find out!
A teacher once told me a reader does not get invested in the story, they get invested and care about the characters, the story just follows behind them. This was certainly true with both of these books. I can't even put my finger on one specific thing she has done, it is everything from her wonderful colorful writing to her believable loveable and despicable characters. I laughed out loud, I sobbed with grief and sighed with relief all the while unable to stop reading (I am not kidding, go check my sharing on this book
). The magic system is original and touching, the evil is dark, the good are not perfect and even though there are gruesome scenes of real horror these just lead to it all being an amazing tale.
Just as with the first book this second one also has an incredibly intense cliffhanger. I am so impatient and cannot wait till the final in the trilogy is here. You will find a place in your heart for so many of these characters, I wonder though, which one is yours?
Dionne has managed to take all these lovely ingredients, bringing them together in this series to create a n incredible feast. These books are not a box of chicken nuggets more like a love pair of roast pheasants.. or goat.. or the whole cow slaughtered in award winning BBQ. My only issue? She has not written book three yet...
((I bought and paid for and read this because I wanted too. This is not just a fair and honest review but it is one that was not solicited, which would have been fine because I only read what I want too anyway!))