01/07/2009. Contributed by Jill Roberts
pub: TOR. 414 page hardback. Price: $25.95 (US), $34.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-76531-129-0.
It is spring time in the land of Ea, King Kiritan has sent out messengers from Alonia announcing a quest for the fabled Lightstone, the most powerful of all the star stones known as gelstei. For only if this stone is found, can there be any hope of vanquishing the evil Lord Morjin and his reign of terror.
The story begins with one of the king's messengers arriving at Mesh, telling of the quest and prophesy of Ayondela Kirriland, the great oracle at Tria. 'The seven brothers and sisters of the earth with the seven stones will set forth into the darkness. The Lightstone will be found, the Maitreya will come forth and a new age will begin'. The messenger goes on to say that King Kiritan is calling on brave knights and nobles to congregate in the capital city of Tria, on the seventh day of Soldaru to meet, receive the king's blessing and embark on the quest.
The Lightstone has been lost for the past three thousand years, so many of the Valari think this a pointless venture. Valashu Elahad, the seventh son of King Shamesh, does not and agrees to go on the quest.
The first half of the book is about Val, what happens at Mesh before he sets out on the journey, the people who travel with him from Mesh, Maram and Master Juwain, plus the people who join him on their journey, Atara and Kane. It is a perilous journey because of travelling through places such as the disorientating Black Bog and the dangerous, energy-sapping Vardaloon.
It is now autumn and they reach the large bustling town of Tria on the afternoon of the seventh. Here the story concentrates on King Kiritan's re-telling of the past and his blessing of the knights. That evening there is a great party. With many thousands of people milling about, another attempt on Val's life and two more people decide to join Val on his quest, Lijana Ashvaren and Alpanderry. There are now seven of them.
The second half of the book is about their quest or, more precisely, a treasure hunt detailing the clues they follow and the different coloured gelstei's they find. Eventually, they reach the Island of the Swans, but had much trouble getting a ship to take them there because many people think the place cursed as it has an active volcano belching smoke which has been mistaken for a dragon.
It is set in a medieval time and I got the impression that these people live a longer life-span than us and so time moves more slowly. Valashu Elahad not only has the mark or Valoreth on his forehead, he is the seventh son of the King of Mesh and is the Maitreya, the shining one as well. That is what I would call having the odds heavily stacked in your favour and rather convenient for him.
This story feels like a boy's rite of passage with a young inexperienced Val going out into the world and becoming a brave warrior. Not a particularly original story as it clearly draws heavily from other sources of fiction. The original 'Star Wars' trilogy, the first of the three films to be shown, in particular Luke Skywalker and his struggles with the dark side. Maram is a worrier, like the rather nervous C3P0, 'The Lord Of The Rings' trilogy, Frodo's travel to Mordor, the pain and the quest to destroy the one ring. While Val is on a quest to find the one gelstei, the dark riders and the elves of the great forest, There are many different types of gelstei, but only seven are great stones and the gold is the greatest of them all, it can control the others ('one right to bind them all'). Also the scar connection to the series of 'Harry Potter' films and his fight with Valdamort. Not to mention 'The Magnificent Seven' with their number as rag-tag band of adventurers, riding to save the land of Ea from Morjin rather than a Mexican village from bandits. Also, to a certain extent, the myths of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, particularly Sir Gawain, his visions of and his search for the Holy Grail.
Therefore it feels rather one-dimensional. I would say this could be an enjoyable romp to read on a summer's day or a long train journey, but not something to get your teeth into on a series of long winter's night.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA