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The Amber Ring (A Novella) Paperback – March 21, 2013
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About the Author
A former network administrator and software developer for the U.S. Department of Defense, A.L. Walton (otherwise known as Piscis – or simply “the fish”) currently resides in Boise, Idaho, where he spends a good chunk of his time making stuff up and putting it on paper. And writing music. But mostly the other thing. You can follow the author at www.writingfish.net or @TheSpaceFish on Twitter.
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Allow me to summarize the plot briefly. Maya is a rather morose and cynical twelve year old whose twin sister Sofia has recently drowned. Sofia had magical powers along with a magical ring which now belongs to her sister. Two years prior to her death, Sofia had managed to rid the Fairwoods of the trolls under the power of the Cedar Witch. Their lands became peaceful. One day Camden, her sister’s pet gryphon, reappears at the site where Sofia died. He attempts to convince Maya that the Fairwoods are again in danger, and that she is needed to restore peace. Maya has no interest in being a weaver or leaving her comfortable life in Oregon. But she feels guilty and eventually agrees to spend Labor Day weekend with Camden on a quest to find the Morning Stone and restore the balance of power.
Maya loses her backpack to Duskrats, and then travels on to the home of the Maple Witch who feeds them and attempts to show Maya how to weave magic just as Sofia had done in the past. Maya is unsuccessful and frustrated. She and the gryphon will meet up with a unicorn, goblins, a geographer some cobblers, and trolls in their attempts to find the Morning Stone. When Maya finally reaches her destination, she is shocked to find that her heroine sister’s death was not an accident. Maya must now make a decision whether or not to avenge it. Will Maya ever be able to put the tragedy behind her or will she forever be molded by it?
I like the multiculturalism introduced by using Spanish phrases, particularly Maya’s grandmother’s description of her as Hueca (hollow) . That is a good way to explain the way Maya feels about herself at the beginning of the story. As mentioned previously, there are some fantasy elements included that are a stretch with the plot, but all in all, I feel that the short novel will appeal to children ten and older as well as adults who like a quick fantasy read.
The book reads well and is beautifully polished. The story flows well. There are a lot of silly things in it, like the bear in the hat, or the satyr, or the Maple Witch. I kept expecting all of them to be evil, by the way. I don't know if this was intentional or not. If it was, then, knowing the end, BRILLIANT.
It's hard to talk about it without giving away the ending, so I'll say this. It's not something to read with a kid who is scared too easily. It's not something you want to read to feel good. But it does make you think and it does leave an impact and it's a fine story. Very fine indeed.
The book is well written and the characters, especially Maya and Camden, are well fleshed out. The supporting cast is a mix of tropes and subverted tropes that are used to great affect in creating a vibrant world for the main characters to navigate. Most importantly of all, the fantasy elements are constructed in a way that makes sense. I didn't once find myself thinking "wait, if that could happen, why couldn't this happen?" It's fantastical, but it follows its own logic and the fewer questions I have that distract from the narrative the better.
Buy this book. It's free, it's relatively short (though not too short as to be unsatisfying), and it's a good read. The only complaint I have is that the author hasn't written any other books yet. When he does, I'll read them.
Not too long nor too short, this novella is a fun, smart read for teens and adults who enjoy their humor and fantasy with an added punch.
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I loved this novella.Read more