Sunday, August 2, 2015

BOOK REVIEW & GUEST POST: "Mandrean Revenge" by Rival Gates

It has been more than 2 years since Linvin Grithinshield returned from his life altering quest with the Red Sapphire as his prize. Apart from surviving the regular assassination attempts he thought life had returned to normal. Far to the north in the Mandrean Empire, however, trouble was festering. In spite of Linvin’s best efforts, Lord Mandrean the 13th survived their confrontation and has been plotting his reprisal. With his empire on the verge of revolt he needs a show of force to display his dominance. Dispatching Linvin in front of his subjects would fill that role most handsomely. With the help of his evil Necromancer, Mandrean kidnaps Linvin’s Uncle Anvar. The elderly elf is the closest family Linvin has remaining and has been a father figure to him for much of his life. The emperor promises to release Anvar only after Linvin has surrendered himself for execution. Though Mandrean’s word has slight credibility, Linvin is given a terrible decision to make. With little choice Linvin sees no other option but to set out for the empire. He cannot delay as Anvar’s life will expire at the first frost of fall. That will become more troubling by the obstacles he faces along the way.



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GUEST POST (Journal entry from main character's POV):

I cannot believe what has happened. The man who filled the fatherly roll in my life has been kidnapped by the vile Emperor Mandrean and his twisted servant Necromancer. It just does not seem possible. How is Mandrean even alive? After we fought in the mountains two years ago I stabbed him in the stomach and watched him as he bled on the frozen ground. That wound should have been lethal. What does it matter how he is alive? The fact is that he lives and now he has seized my Uncle Anvar. His directions were quite clear. I have until the first frost in their capital of Marinhalk to present myself for execution or Anvar will take the fall in my stead. It is a long and dangerous trek to reach there so time cannot be wasted. I will trade my life for Anvar’s. Be serious, Linvin! Do you really think they will let him go once they have you? He did burn half that city with his magic. You know they will kill you both. So why go at all? If Anvar dies in either scenario, then why follow his lead? Linvin! What kind of talk is that? They killed your father and there was nothing you could do. They killed your mother and there was no way to prevent it. You have a slim chance of saving Anvar. This time you must act! I must find a way to fight my way to fight a path into the heart of their empire, save Anvar and return us home alive. That will be difficult; bordering on impossible. Mandrean will suspect a fight from me and be ready. He will undoubtedly use Anvar or some other leverage to keep me from putting up a struggle. There will be time to plan on the road. Right now, I must be off.



High fantasy novels are far and few between, and many of them today have very little originality. While in The Sapphire Chronicles have some of the classic influences (how can they not?) these are wholly original novels.
In the third book (I do recommend you get books one and two before you read this, but it's not necessary: they have great recaps), we get reunited with familiar characters who really do feel like old friends.
That's what I love most about this book: you know the characters. They are real; they are there. It's a book where you can hear their voices in your head and even see their expressions.
Gates took what could have been ordinary, and made it extraordinary. It's an adventure the likes of which you haven't been taken on since the first time you picked up Lord of the Rings. Forget George RR Martin. Rival Gates is the man you need to be reading if you love fantasy!

4/5--a great, wild ride!

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