01/06/2010. Contributed by Neale Monks
pub: AuthorHouse. 401 page enlarged paperback. Price: $18.95 (US). ISBN: 1-4208-0814-1.
check out website: www.authorhouse.com
'The Sons Of Maeve' is a three-part story of two young friends who find themselves drawn into a battle between good and evil in a fantastical setting populated with mysterious people, magic and monsters. If that sounds a bit hackneyed, that's perhaps understandable, but don't be put off by that. While the story might not be the most completely original idea ever to be printed on paper, authors Dave and Rose Cox nonetheless manage to create a novel that is entertaining, engaging and accessible.
At its core, the book is what might pompously be called a bildungsroman, a story about two young people growing up as orphans and learning about themselves while also discovering the world around them. Indeed, the authors themselves were young people when they started working on the story back in 1976 and it wasn't until 2004 that the book was published. Between that time, the authors travelled, got married, had a family and all the time developing their ideas and expanding the narrative.
The end result is a big, thick book that draws heavily on Celtic mythology. Alongside the three novels are poems, maps, alphabets and other documents that add detail to the world of Thann and Gimble, the two friends and protagonists around which 'The Sons Of Maeve' is built. In every way the book feels like a labour of love, very different to the mass-produced SF and fantasy tie-in novels cranked out monthly by far too many authors and publishers.
The Celtic flavour gives 'The Sons Of Maeve' a distinctive flavour that does set it apart from most other fantasy novels. Thankfully, the authors have chosen not to use Irish (or mock-Irish) spellings for the Celtic elements. So while Maeve might be more properly spelled Meadhbh, that's not an arrangement of letters that most English-readers will find easy on the eye!
Events proceed at a brisk pace, the young adventurers finding out about the history of their world and Thann discovers that his father might still be alive. By the end of the first book, Thann meets up with a young woman, Rhianna, with whom he develops a relationship that develops through the next two books. Events speed up in the second book when they encounter the heroic Fenris and, by the end of the third book, an old acquaintance is revealed as their greatest enemy.
While the pacing is good and there's plenty to keep the reader turning its pages, 'The Sons Of Maeve' isn't perfect. The basic story itself lacks complexity and the characters move through a series of set-piece encounters rather like a movie screenplay. The authors mention the influence of Edgar Rice Burroughs in the preface and there's certainly much about 'The Sons Of Maeve' that has an ERB feel to it. Characters are essentially good or bad without any shades of grey in between. We're talking tales of derring-do between heroes and villains rather than psychological drama here.
At heart, 'The Sons Of Maeve' is true to its youthful origins and is very much a book for young people. It would be a particularly good read for teen-agers. That isn't to say adults aren't going to enoy 'The Sons Of Maeve'; this adult certainly enjoyed it! But it's a light and fun read, centred on adventures rather than characters.
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