“When the mightiest eagle finally meets a rider worth carrying, a young man becomes a legend. Join all the readers soaring through this action-packed epic fantasy.”
In a land of eagle-riding knights, bloodthirsty beasts, and a ruthless prince, no border is safe for long. And as smoke billows from the only blockade standing between the great city of Korindelf and certain doom, young Morlen races to escape the inevitable siege. Thrust from the chaos with thousands of snapping jaws on his trail, he discovers that the abilities he’s buried all his life are awakening – and it could not have happened at a worse time.
War has come, and he doesn’t dare rely on his untested talents after stealing the coveted Goldshard, which makes strength and invincibility just a panicked whisper away. His dependency on it carries him through many dangers, until it becomes an enemy far worse than those he must fight hand-to-hand. And the allies he meets on his quest are just as troubled: a legendary warrior too afraid to leave his sheltered paradise, a wizard tormented by his past, and a disgraced king who has lost any hope of saving his people.
A Facet for the Gem is a coming-of-age fantasy that brings Morlen from distant kingdoms to sprawling airborne battles, into the fiery breath of a stony dragon and side-by-side with a lady knight who is the last person in need of rescue. Follow him as his epic adventures culminate in a final showdown against swords, fangs, and greatest of all: his own fear.
This is one of those stories where I heard the premise and was immediately sold. I am a sucker for the hero’s journey trope, and the many ways it can be created. This one is fairly traditional in its execution, but takes some interesting chances with the world building and characters, chances that pay off in the best way. It’s got an outside the box cast of characters that I found engaging from beginning to end.
The world building sounded like a bog standard epic fantasy when I heard the premise, but much to my surprise, it was anything but. It seems that this is more of a dystopian fantasy, which I was not expecting. The setting is creative, with humans living in walled cities that are under constant threat by creatures that see them as food, and they have formed two separate societies allied together to fight the monstrous hordes. Korindelf is the home of the land bound fighters, ruled by their king and keeping the monstrous shriekers at bay. The mountain city of Veldere is the home of the Eaglemasters, warriors who ride giant eagles into battle, and who are even better fighters on the ground. They keep the Ferotaur menace from overwhelming the humans from the west. The alliance is crumbling, though, and humanity seems to be on the brink of falling apart, with tragic consequences for humanity.
The characters are excellent. Since it’s the hero’s journey, the main character should be well rounded, with various strengths and flaws, and with failures to to go along with their successes. Morlen is that hero, and his journey from a bullied orphan outcast in Korindelf to eagle riding hero has all those elements. I was surprised how fearless the author was in having Morlen struggle. He had his share of failures, and had to struggle with his doubts about himself. He does, however, do an admirable job of overcoming the struggles, and he comes really far in both maturity and abilities over the course of the story. He is really the kind of character you can’t help but root for.
The secondary characters are equally well written. Roftome may be my favorite of these characters, and he’s a giant eagle! In fact, he is the greatest of the eagles, untamable. But he learns that while he won’t be tamed, humans aren’t all bad and can become the greatest of friends, and they can make the greatest of teams. Valeine, the princess of Veldere is also a fantastic character. She has a lot to live up to, with her father and brothers being great warriors, and she is also an excellent warrior in her own right, in charge of training aspiring young eaglemasters. She is a great example to them, and she slowly develops a bond with Morlen throughout the book as they face greater threats as the story progresses. Matufinn is the mentor character, the Obi-Wan to Morlen’s Anakin, minus the youngling murder and whole dark side thing. It also turns out he has a connection to Morlen that he didn’t see coming, and makes their relationship that much better.
The antagonist of the story is Felkoth, Prince of Korindelf. He is an excellent villain, the kind who is not “shades of grey”, who is the hero in his own story. Instead, he is just an evil, power hungry villain, the kind who is a real threat to not only his enemies, but to everyone he can effect. When his true origin is revealed, it puts his personality in context, but it doesn’t make him sympathetic, which is how I prefer my villains. He causes so much chaos that it really forces the other character to step up to stop him of face total ruin.
The narration is performed by one of my favorite narrators, James Foster. He does a fantastic job bringing the characters to life. His various voices are distinct for each character, and you can feel the emotion resonance for each of them. He uses a variety of tones and cadences to differentiate them, and it really works. His narrative pacing is spot on, and it never devolves into a monotone or weird pauses.
Rating: 9.25/10 Stars
*Reviews involving team members are written without bias.