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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old world fantasy brimming with romance, mystery and adventure.
If you are looking for a story brimming with romance, mystery and adventure, you must read "The Tree of Life" by Elita Daniels. The rich fantasy tale has a delicious old world charm and the quality of the prose is intricate and designed to be savoured. I especially enjoyed the full descriptions of the main characters and the love, hate and anguish they feel as the tale...
Published on November 21, 2010 by Rosemary Danielis

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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 1.9 out of 5
Rating: 1.9 out of 5

The older you get, the faster life moves. Yes, that's a cliché, but most times clichés have their roots in aspects of the truth. Days and weeks fly by, and before you know it you're looking at the past saying, "Maybe I should've stopped for a minute to appreciate the passage of time." When I find myself thinking this, and...
Published on February 6, 2011 by JOA


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old world fantasy brimming with romance, mystery and adventure., November 21, 2010
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If you are looking for a story brimming with romance, mystery and adventure, you must read "The Tree of Life" by Elita Daniels. The rich fantasy tale has a delicious old world charm and the quality of the prose is intricate and designed to be savoured. I especially enjoyed the full descriptions of the main characters and the love, hate and anguish they feel as the tale unwinds. The story explores the multifaceted nature of love and desire: the joy, the burden, the tenderness and pain, the friendships and the enemies. I felt myself being drawn deep into the minds and emotions of the characters until it was as if I was present in the story myself. The author layers her descriptions with the fine touch of a painter, creating shadows and highlights to the plot and characters, painting a memorable, beautiful story. Congratulations Elita, I eagerly await the next book in the series.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!, September 27, 2010
This review is from: The Darkening of Deacon (Tree of Life Series, Book #1) (Kindle Edition)
I'd like to start this review by stating I'm not particularly a Fantasy genre fan, and really didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. Ha! Fooled me.
Elita Faith Daniels has a definite way with words. The first sentence 'hooked' me, and her flowing sentences made me want to keep reading. Its rare in today's novels to
get such enjoyment just from the way wording is used.

""Set in a mythical country, there are elves, and humans, and 'mage'.....those with mystical powers.
The story centers around young Deacon, and his struggle to come to terms with his part human, part mage heritage, while fighting his own internal demons. The authors descriptive prose brought the characters and surroundings to life, and I found myself rooting for, sympathizing with, and wanting to throttle Deacon at different times.
There are highs, and there are lows, and I felt each one. If there is one downside......its the ending. Elita!! How can you leave me hanging like this??? There had best be a part II and soon.

I read the e-book version, which was very well formatted, with clickable TOC.

I have very few "shelf worthy" books..but this is one I turned around and ordered in paper form.
**Disclaimer. This is a near duplicate post of a review I posted on LibraryThing.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 1.9 out of 5, February 6, 2011
Rating: 1.9 out of 5

The older you get, the faster life moves. Yes, that's a cliché, but most times clichés have their roots in aspects of the truth. Days and weeks fly by, and before you know it you're looking at the past saying, "Maybe I should've stopped for a minute to appreciate the passage of time." When I find myself thinking this, and the limited time I have to do what I need to do, I abhor the things around me that waste my time, things that steal from me precious moments with which I could have been doing something different.

Not the best way to start a review, right? I know. But this is the way I started to feel while forcing myself through The Tree of Life by Elita Daniels.

I received this book as a review copy from the author. When reading the sample, it pulled me in because of the impending sense of sorrow and doom presented during the first couple chapters. I happily accepted it, thinking this melancholy suggested an impending expansion and heightening of emotion over the course of the text.

It turns out I was right. Sort of.

This is the story of Deacon, a young man with severe daddy issues. His father was a great and dangerous necromancer who wanted to use his son and wife's "Riven" blood (According to the tale, Rivens are a people whose connection to magic exists on a level almost like breathing air for everyday folks) to bring about...something. The particulars of his plan were never really explained, other than he wished to overthrow the governing body of magic that was in place at the time. A young Deacon is kidnapped, his mother injured, and then by the end of this opening sequence the father ultimately sacrifices himself (somehow, again not explained) to save his son, and then Deacon's mother marries an elf, among whom they live until Deacon is older and his mother passes.

From there, we reach the main gist of the plot. Deacon grows up to be a cynical, detached, and miserable young man. He's haunted by his father's actions and abandonment, thrown into fits of anger because of the pain the man inflicted on his beloved mother. So after his mother's death, when he learns his father is somehow still alive, Deacon sets out, against the will of the elves who've helped raise him, to learn divining spells, find out where his father now exists, and kill him. He rounds up his cousins, Derek and Cedrik, and embarks on his quest.

Along the way he becomes more and more grumpy, works on refining his magical abilities, meets up with a beautiful dark priestess named Magenta, falls in love with her, and does everything he can to close himself off from everyone who's close to him. As far as his quest goes, by the end of this much-too-long book, he doesn't get very far, at all.

And this is perhaps the most maddening thing about the book. It's long, it's slow, and absolutely nothing gets resolved. I understand that this is the first book of a proposed series, but there has to be at least some resolution, doesn't there? But there isn't any. By the time we reach the final page, Deacon is right where he is when we start up his storyline - alone, awkward, and full of hate. He doesn't grow as a character at all. He's completely unlikeable, a winy brat who can't let go of the past even though he grew up in what amounts to paradise with the elves. Perhaps this is simply a problem with myself. Maybe others will get something out of it I didn't. Maybe.

The text in this book is dense. Page after page goes by without anything really happening. At times it seems as if the author is simply in love with her ability to turn a phrase, and she packs the text with allegory and explanation, which makes it read even slower. Not only that, but strangely enough the more exciting parts of the book are rushed through, as if the action is an obstacle to be skipped over. Towards the beginning, as Deacon's mother is being escorted by emissaries of magical law in search of her husband, the group is attacked by an army of the undead. I got excited, especially considering I was still really into the feel of the author's style at that point, but then...nothing happens. All of a sudden the scene is over, and we're back to inner angst and an eventual marriage between Deacon's mother and the elf (who she's really just met) that helped save her. Huh?

And that's another problem. Even with the over-abundance of words used, there are so many things that are simply not explained. The most intriguing aspect of the plot - what was Deacon's father trying to accomplish, who is he, what's up with the treachery going on inside the walls of their society's beaurocracy? - are quickly forgotten about. After 10% of the book, they're never mentioned again and we're back to Deacon's brooding and self-hate.

Now, it's not as if this book was all bad. There are some interesting themes presented, such as the questioning of what makes us human, the soul-encompassing pain and doubt of love, and the duty one feels to a family member, even if said family member doesn't seem to deserve it. But these finer points become overshadowed by the endlessly droning words. As I said at the before, the beginning is beautifully written, but it never changes. The tone never changes. It's like being stuck in the mud and not being able to pull yourself out. In a word, irritating.

And there are writing quirks that get in the way, as well. For one, the author is in love with the word "presently". Presently, so-and-so does this. Presently, another character does this. Presently, a campfire burns. Okay, I get it. It's happening now. Also, to further illustrate the author simply packing words upon words, there are many instances of redundancy in the text, long passages that are repetitious or contradictory. Here are a few examples:

Unconscious of anything outside each other, they gazed on one another with an intensity that excluded all else.

Or then we have:

Within the gloom, Deacon knew a quiet grove in which he spent long hours of solitude, finding these woods to be the only place sufficiently quiet for him to escape and become entirely absorbed in his study, without fear of interruption.

And then:

She held him there, and there he remained.

See what I mean? And these are the shorter examples.

Now, I'm not one to sit here and blast a book. I know that it takes a lot of dedication to write. But it took just as much effort for me to read it. It took me three weeks to finish this book, and by the final paragraph I couldn't help but wonder why I stayed with it that long. Perhaps I'm just stubborn. At the end of the day, the reader is not indebted to the author's effort. If the execution isn't there, it just isn't, no matter how much work was put into it.

Maybe I'm in the minority here. Maybe others will read this book and think it brilliant. I'm certainly not the be-all-end-all when it comes to this sort of thing. And the author does show a lot of potential. She has a definite grasp of emotional weight and can craft some intriguing characters. If she only refined it, used her words at a premium, then she'd have something I'd willingly dive into again.

Until then, I can't justify devoting any more time to it than I already have.

Plot - 5
Characters - 6
Voice - 4
Execution - 2
Personal Enjoyment - 2

Overall - 19/50 (1.9/5)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable but....., March 16, 2011
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This review is from: The Darkening of Deacon (Tree of Life Series, Book #1) (Kindle Edition)
A good romantic fantsasy, good characters ,a good story line, but .....lacked explanations as to why , how ,where . just when it got interesting and you wanted to know more and why ..place and subject of story changed.several parts were fast page turners where nothing much happened. I did enjoy this story but just feel it is lacking in details of why things are the way they are.
will most likely buy book 2 .out of curiosity ,to find out if Deacon ever becomes happy and if him and Magenta can really get it together .
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy that makes you believe, January 9, 2011
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This review is from: The Darkening of Deacon (Tree of Life Series, Book #1) (Kindle Edition)
The story begins not with the main character of this tale, Deacon, but rather with the people and the betrayal that would guide the journey occupying the bulk of this book. Though initially a bit disappointed at the brevity of the first adventure, I was quickly placated by the realization that it was only the backdrop to a more involved production.

Daniels proves herself as one with a good understanding of human nature. Her characterizations are consistent, even with the transformations and maturation of personalities. Deacon himself displays aspects of the Byronic hero, a man whose inner darkness drives a self-destructive attitude towards those who surround him. We are slowly drawn into his inner turmoil, and while much of this is elicited through his scenes with Magenta, the interest gave purpose to the otherwise overly-romantic sections. With that being said, there were still moments when I wanted to knock him upside the head for being so slow to make up his mind.

Many of the names, as well as the fantasy realm itself, seem to draw heavily from Tolkein. The similarity of elven attributes was difficult to ignore, and while this facilitated the process of picturing an ethereal race, it took away from the mysticism of it all as my mind started drawing parallels between Tree of Life and Lord of the Rings. Fortunately, the creativity of the plot, as well as the well-paced storyline, maintained my interest in the reading at hand. Daniels displays a firm understanding of "show, not tell," as she introduces the reader to concepts and characters without giving excessive background information. We learn the details as we would in real life -- through conversation, action, and events.

For the most part, the text flowed quite readily. The author's sense of rhythm and sentence structure is well-developed, and complex ideas are conveyed in lyrical prose without becoming cumbersome in their dense verbiage. Even so, there were some paragraphs where unintended redundancy marred the effect. If something is described as shocking, for example, then we need not to be told that the character was shocked. Appalled, or amazed, perhaps, but certainly not a word that was already used. Additionally, the overuse of variations of the word "caress" began to wear at me by the end of the book.

With its complex, carefully planned storyline; its believable characters; and the promise of intrigue yet to come, Tree of Life is a novel that propels the reader headfirst into hours of pleasant reading and goads him into swimming frantically towards the final destination: the last page. The ending left me itching for the next installment in this series, and I look forward to finding out the fate of characters that have become dear to me over the course of two days.

Stimulated Outlet Book Reviews
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting novel, March 26, 2011
This review is from: The Darkening of Deacon (Tree of Life Series, Book #1) (Kindle Edition)
This was a very interesting first novel. I will be very interested to see what happens next to our hero Deacon. He is a very dark character who sees the bleak side of life at pretty much every turn. The language of the book is magnificent. I loved reading it. It was lovely but taken in small doses worked beat for me as I became a little over whelmed with the intensity of the words. Intensity is the theme of this book as Deacon tries to work out his feelings for the other characters. He is a very morose young man and I find the love that his cousins have for him is truly inspiring as he attempts tomturn them back from their journey of vengeance with pure defiance and beligerance.

I ammhoping the next book of the series explains more of Deacon's motivations regarding his hatred of the elves who protected him as an infant. It was one of the things that seemed inadequately expained. Deacon's love interest Magenta was an interesting comparison to his sultry selfishness. She added a light to his life that he previously did not have. I was saddened that he proceeded tompush her affections away at every opportunity until it was too late.

The book was an ineresting look at how humans deal with jealousy and grief and desire for vengeance on real or perceived hurts. I await the next in the sequel eagerly hoping that our hero will learn a little in the intervening time. However knowing human nature I have no real hope that this will occur. I have been surprised before.

Deacon, how are you? How do you feel about the elves? Are you still driven our if your mind with anger?

Bring on the next book Ms Daniels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesomely written by a talented writer., March 14, 2011
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Beck (Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Darkening of Deacon (Tree of Life Series, Book #1) (Kindle Edition)
I'm not exactly sure how to start a review, but I'll try and keep it somewhat conversational. Last night, I finished reading a book called Tree of Life by the talented E.F. Daniels, it is her first book and the first part in a series of books to come, this taken into account, the story starts off pretty slow and much of the language is not as sophisticated as what was to come in the rest of the book; while there were many typographical errors in the first half of the book, I feel that in the first edition of a book, it should not matter greatly unless those errors persist past the second and third printings... and anyway, I believe it makes my copy of the book special.
What I wanted to talk about first was the characters and the rest of my review will probably pale in comparison with this section of discussion. Elita once mentioned that her characters would not leave her alone even while she slept, they whispered inner dialogue in her ear and I cannot blame her, for the characters she creates are intensely realistic, self-aware creatures. The main character, Deacon is, at his core, a good person but he is filled with hatred and other dark emotions, this is portrayed so strongly that at times during the story we're not sure whether he's the hero or villain. He is a singularly determined, stubborn and at times, indecisive character with such pride that it becomes his downfall more than once; both physically and emotionally. Deacon is a unique protagonist in that he is so often his own greatest enemy that we nearly forget what greater purpose he is hellbent on.
The book begins with Deacon as a child, he is quiet and intensely introverted to the point of strangeness, this remains a constant throughout the story and many people are able to detect something strange about him on first glance. While some may be put off by the illusion of "not much going on", there is, in fact a lot going on in the story at any one time when you think of the characters as people.
Elita writes in a style that stirs emotions within people, especially those that have lived with mental illness and can empathise strongly with the characters. I, as a fairly unemotional person found myself almost in tears at several points in the book.
I wanted this review to be special, but I really can't find the words to be erudite right now, so I'll shamelessly plug this book. It's awesome, go buy it if you haven't already.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revenge is a Double-edged Sword that Cuts the Soul, March 10, 2011
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This review is from: The Darkening of Deacon (Tree of Life Series, Book #1) (Kindle Edition)
Revenge... it incurs bitterness and motivation unlike any other emotion, settling deep into the soul like a festering pustule until the seeker is completely consumed.

This is Deacon--the protagonist in Elita Daniels' debut fantasy novel, Tree of Life Part One. Abducted and scarred by his cruel and power-hungry father as a child, Deacon's mother risked life and limb to save him from the cruel fate his father planned for him. The bond between mother and son becomes even stronger as they survive the terrifying ordeal, but when Deacon's mother falls in love with the elven man who helps her save her son, her frail, human mortality is only enhanced by the everlasting elven world they live in.

Both set free and ensnared by his mother's death, Deacon embarks on a quest to avenge her and punish his wicked father. Accompanied by his cousins, despite his pleas for solitude, Deacon, Cedrik and Derek find themselves caught up in a strange plot involving a beautiful young priestess-in-training named Magenta. Despite his unwillingness to let himself fall in love, Deacon is enamored with Magenta, and discovers that sharing his vengeance with her is both liberating and dangerous.

There is something about Deacon's inner turmoil that appeals to the soul. As a reader I found myself frustrated and enamored with his struggle to love and be loved. A struggle that continually leaves him feeling empty and enraged, this presents a powerful lesson about the dangers of self-loathing.

For a debut novel from a first-time author, Daniels captures the otherworldly essence often found in works by master storytellers like Tolkien. Tree of Life is both character and plot driven, urging readers to embrace the struggling enigma that is Deacon in hopes that he can be saved--more than anything from himself.

Overall, I give Tree of Life Part One 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to fantasy lovers who relish in conflicted characters on a quest to quell their vengeance and discover who they really are at heart. I'm anxiously awaiting the second installment, as Daniels split the novel at the perfect cliffhanger.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tree of Life, September 10, 2010
Tree of life is a High Fantasy novel that in its descriptive, colourful prose sits amongst those works in the manner of Tolkien and Paolini. The book from the first page to the last is shrouded in darkness as Ms Daniels weaves a tale surrounding a protagonist that is thoroughly unlikeable though deep down inside, you look for a reason to find redemption within him. The writer skillfully skates a knifes edge with how she handles both the deepening plot and the development of her characters. I am very much looking forward to the direction the sequel takes, having no idea what to expect next.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Darkening of Deacon (Tree of Life) by E. F. Daniels, November 11, 2012
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This review is from: The Darkening of Deacon (Tree of Life Series, Book #1) (Kindle Edition)
The Darkening of Deacon is a fantasy Sci-Fi world building novel set in a mystical time of elven and magic. The world building is very good, understandable, realistic and believable. It is easy to accept and this reader found a good suspension of disbelief in the world developed by the author. There was enough detail to fuel imagination but not so much as to bog the story down.

Deacon, the primary protagonist, was not quite as well developed and defined but he was still interesting and imaginative. His quest to find his father and avenge the mis-treatment of his mother is, while not unique in the world of fantasy, understandable and relatable. But his inability to be anything other than morose, cranky and bull-headed takes a bit away from the full development of his character. I would have liked to see more humanity in him.

The secondary characters are very well developed and compelling. The love interest is one of the best I have seen written lately. She brings a lightness to an otherwise very dark story. The dialog was very good and moved the plot forward with skill. But the back-story was lacking in that some of the motivations were not clearly defined and explained.

Overall this is a very good book with the potential to bring an epic story to the genre'. Hopefully in the following novels the small problems will be corrected and the story will form more fully. I did like it and will be reading the rest of the series.

Karen Bryant Doering,
Parents' Little Black Book
MistBlueEeyore@gmail.com
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