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The Birr Elixir: A Fantasy Tale of Heroes, Princes, and an Apprentice's Magic Potion (The Legend of the Gamesmen Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 196 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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|Age Level: 12 - 18|
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This is a fun read for those who like fantasy. Jo Sparks is definitely a talented writer and The Birr Elixir is an entertaining story. The character development is solid, the story line is interesting, the book is well paced and the dialogue is good but this book does have a "fatal flaw" so read on.
Marra, the heroine, is an apprentice potion maker. Her mistress has died before Marra can complete her training. As a result of her mistress's death, she is left in the care of Snark, her mistress's evil brother. Marra senses this will not end well.
An unusual customer comes to the potion shop and Marra makes a potion for an athletic team. They believe the potion is responsible for their winning so the team's leader offers Marra a way out of her predicament; she will travel with the team as their potion maker. Marra's leaving is complicated when she discovers an unconscious man in the back of the shop. The honorable men of the team reluctantly take the unconscious man with them. The adventure begins.
Be warned this is a serial (a story in parts) rather than a series (a number of self contained and complete books written one after another with the same characters). This was the "fatal flaw" and disappointment with the book; a lack of having a truly complete self contained story. There are too many "loose ends". The matter of why the unconscious man ended up in the shop and why others want him captured alive is never resolved. It is obvious a nefarious plot is afoot but it is never revealed. It seems that is for another book. The reader is "left hanging" and that's not good.
The story telling is definitely of five star quality but I cannot give the book five stars because in my opinion "The Birr Elixir" is not a complete story. It seems meant to entice readers to buy a follow up book to find out what happens.
My rating is three out of five stars.
Note: I was provided a review copy for an honest review.
The Birr Elixir is a Young Adult Fantasy novella that has wider appeal. Jo Sparkes masterfully draws together elements of action, adventure, sports, fantasy, and sorcery in a likeable, exotic world. The Birr Elixir is the first installment in “The Legend of the Gamesmen” series. It is the winner of the Silver Ippy award and the BRAG Medallion.
Marra’s mentor recently passed away, leaving her a book containing potion recipes. When the sportsman Drail spies the recipe for the Birr Elixir in the book, he must have it. Marra makes a batch for Drail and his team. They win the Comet game against the Skullan team, a feat which has never been accomplished. The team takes Marra with them and they head to the main tournament at the port city. Marra awakens a stranger, Tryst, from an enchanted slumber. He, too, is anxious to get to the port city. As a master of the sport Comet, Tryst mentors the team. It will take more than magical elixirs to win the tournament: they’ll need skill, too. However, evil men offer Marra a rare herb she needs to make the Birr Elixir. In exchange, she must give another sleeping potion to Tryst and allow the men to recapture him. If she fails, they promise to harm her. What will Marra choose?
Jo Sparkes weaves timeless themes into this magical tale, such as good versus evil, the importance of loyalty, and refusing temptation for the greater good. My favorite character was Marra. She is quiet, keeping her thoughts and opinions to herself. Marra has lived a rough life, yet secretly dreams of being so much more. Marra feels affection for Drail; she regards him as the man who redeemed her from a life of near-slavery under a cruel shopkeeper. She is a genuinely good person at heart.
I enjoyed reading The Birr Elixir. I was whisked away to a land that was at once both imaginative and believable. The characters were interesting and unique. The plot is well designed and unfolds quickly while creating an atmosphere of suspense. The fictional sport Comet is dynamic, fun, and energetic, much like a Quidditch match. The Gamesmen storyline creates a mood much like the Heath Ledger film “A Knight’s Tale”. I’d recommend The Birr Elixir to readers who enjoy Fantasy and Action Adventure genres.
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