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Arch Enemies Paperback – Large Print, February 24, 2016
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Buy it for your YA reader and read it yourself!
My observations. She received the book on a Saturday and didn't seem to put it down until she had finished it by the end of the weekend. This is much the same behavior that I observed when she read the Hunger Games series and the Potter books. Not every book that she reads receives this kind of commitment.
She reported that she liked the characters and felt that the story was compelling. However, she wished that the main character had made some different choices - that she would have done some things differently, - which during the conversation I interpreted as her close association with the character and, by extension, the author.
Her most telling comment was the request for the next book in the series. That is a TWO THUMBS UP response from her.
Arch Enemies depicts the adventures of Terin who is the unfortunate young bard looking to make a place for himself as a musician/storyteller. Just before he performs on stage, he is picked up by the squires Rendal and Darlissa and brought before Duke Aramis who has read a prophecy describing young Terin. The magic of the Arch which has sealed an ancient battle with evil Biata, a race of half human half gryphon, some gryphons, and humans is weakening and Terin is the key to fulfilling the prophecy of resealing the arch. The story progresses as Terin, Rendal, and Darlissa (who is a Biata herself) travel the land in search of what Terin must do. Of course the prophecy doesn't specify, so the story unfolds as they travel trying to figure it out. There are a couple subplots of what is happening to the dwarven caravans, an old Biata who lost his wife, and some other minor ones.
This book has a promising beginning until it gets to the part about the prophecy. After that, I felt like it was just another story where a prophecy is told, a young boy does his thing and then wa-la, prophecy fulfilled. For starters, I will say I was wrong and it is much more than that. More about that later. There are many spots of traveling and getting to know the characters. For the most part, I really was not all that engaged in Terin's character. I will say that he grew on me later and then became bland again until towards the end. Darlissa, on the other hand, was my favorite. She was well written and had very good development and at the same time kept a nice mystery about her. The book flowed well and keeps the reader engaged enough to get through the differing scenes, action, and times of turmoil. The pacing was not done so well. It felt like driving a diesel semi, taking too long to get to the next gear until you get through all the gears and up to speed and then at the end, the pacing was perfect. The characters were well done and what parts there were with the villains was nicely done.
1. This book is written in the first person POV, not a favorite of mine. I would have liked a different perspective taken on this one. It would have been better if I could have been inside Darlissa's head and knowing a bit more how she felt and also more about the villain's ambitions and plans.
2. The pacing could have used some tightening up. There were just too many places of Terin wondering and asking about things he didn't know about the prophecy only to get the same answers over and over. I will say once those questions were answered, I couldn't put the book down.
3. The adventures have Terin taking paths that just seemed random. It was as if he was making something up that, to me, didn't make much sense and just helped to get to a different plot point. For those who have read it, I am talking about what Terin decides so as to travel to Dwarvenholm.
1. As promised, the prophecy. In order to avoid spoilers, I can't get into too much detail here. Suffice it to say, it is NOT a typical prophecy story and the twist with the prophecy is well worth the read. I applaud Mr. Ventrella's unique idea here.
2. The race of the Biata. There is much background information found through the whole book about the race. They are unique and very well formulated and written about. It was nice to finally read a fantasy novel with something other than humans, elves, and dwarves, not to mention goblins and ogres.
3. It is evident that Mr. Ventrella is a musician as well. The in-depth descriptions of music and the ability to relate it to the magic of the earth was spot on.
4. Mr. Ventrella has a great sense of humor. There are many spots in the book where I distubed those around me with my laughing. Especially the scenes with the goblins.
In the end, I would have to say this is a really good book. Once I got past my own personal biases about prophecies and the first person POV, it really did have a nice underlying shine to it. This is the first time I have heard of Mr. Ventrella and will have to say I was not disappointed. I believe a YA audience would enjoy this as well as adults. There are some graphic scenes, but not anything worse than what you see on TV nowadays. I look forward to continuing the adventure in The Axes of Evil.
Arch Enemies, by Michael Ventrella: Double Dragon Publishing Inc 2007
The young bard, Terin Ostler, is astounded when two squires arrive to take him into the Duke's presence - even more astounded when he learns that he is the one foretold in a prophecy to ensure the Arch remains sealed to imprison the evil Thessi within. The atmosphere of the quest that follows is heightened by intrigues and by Terin's doubts about who tells the true account of the prophecy, since he is not allowed to read it. The action is lively when the two squires, Rendel and Darlissa, face repeated attacks to protect the timid bard - while he gradually grows in maturity, courage, and character.
Terin's sardonic observations bring the quest to life, and the suitably convoluted events of the final crisis close the prophecy and the story in fine style. The world of these humans, gryphons, elves, dwarves, and many other magic creatures is a constantly fascinating place for the lover of fantasy to discover within these pages.
Michael Ventrella says the basic ideas for the novel came from his role playing game site, but this is no raw transcription of random events but a tightly written and plotted work that will keep the reader enthralled until the last word is read.