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Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 (The Keepers of Arden) Paperback – November 22, 2013
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About the Author
I was born in Phoenix, AZ, where I still reside, despite the horrendous summer months. I currently live in a suburb of Phoenix with my husband (a truly wonderful man), two dogs, two cats, and three newts (I love love love animals). Right out of high school, I got recruited into the corporate world and found I had a knack for accounting. I spent seventeen years in various divisions of accounting, but never felt fully satisfied by the turn my life had taken. Of all I had imagined my future to be, chained to a desk was not in any of my plans. In one of those wild moments where you're ready to bungee jump off a building, I quit my job and went to work on opening a dog daycare business, with all the support and love of my husband. As I was planning, I used my free time to start a story. I'd read a book and was rather unhappy with the ending, so I decided to write something I would enjoy. It started out as a secret. It was a side hobby, a release, an escape. But one day, my husband came home early and caught me. Instead of allowing me to continue on in secrecy, he planted a seed of publishing in my mind. The thought of being an author went against everything I had made of my life. Security. Stability. Debit and credits. Cars and houses. Textbook accounting. Writing was creativity; no rules, no certainties of success. And I found it...addicting, exhilarating, and something I absolutely loved doing. The dog daycare idea was unattainable for us, but the writing blossomed into a dream I never bothered to dream. So here I am. Who would've thought?
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The majority of the story revolves around Wilhelm and his brother, Salvarias, a mage whose conception early in the story bears the touch of an evil, malicious force. Salvarias, already reviled by many for being a mage, bears the horrible burden of feeling this evil force within him, and Wilhelm's pure nature and unconditional love for him could possibly be the only thing that can save him from being consumed by it. On top of that, an ancient evil is once again vying to gain power over Arden and has its eyes set on Salvarias to help achieve its goals.
Much of Keepers follows Wilhelm and Salvarias through their youth, showcasing their growth into adulthood. In my opinion, this is expertly done, and serves to make these characters so much more endearing. Following Salvarias's journey to adulthood is a heart-wrenching experience, and watching the misery of his youth compared to Wilhelm's more pleasant upbringing makes it even more so. Constantly you want Wilhelm to discover the truth about what Salvarias is forced to go through and to make everything better. The fact that I found myself caring so deeply about Salvarias and his brother, while hating those responsible for Salvarias's troubled youth is testament to L.K. Evan's amazing ability to craft interesting and believable characters.
There are villains, monsters, and heroes in spades throughout Keepers, and Evan's strong imagination shines through each of them. The story has plenty of twists and turns, answering many questions that arise, while leaving many for future volumes. The reader should be aware that this is very much an adult fantasy, and there is some very dark moments throughout.
There were only a couple of issues I had with Keepers of Arden. One was the pacing for the latter portion. I do understand that the beginning spans nearly two decades, but once the brothers are adults, I felt the transition into something of a "this happened, then this happened, and then this happened" was a bit abrupt. Also, I was a little let down by the climax of the book. Being the first book of a series, I didn't expect much closure, but I just didn't feel the protagonists had much at stake. Yes, there was a city faced with a potential massacre, but there wasn't really a sense of the true consequences for the characters or the story if the good guys, so to speak, lost to the bad guys.
Those are really small gripes, however, in that I was captivated throughout. There are rarely any slow sections, and even those few were kept interesting with Evan's brilliant characters. Truthfully, this is one of the best fantasy books I've had the pleasure of reading this year, and I can't wait to see what Evans has in store for Wilhelm, Salvarias, and the world of Arden in the next volume.
From a Reader's Perspective:
In the beginning of the book, we're introduced to a placed named Arden. I could see the city clearly in my mind from the descriptions on the pages. Not long after the story began, I was dragged into a melee of emotional turmoil as fierce, dark creatures were described and the mother in the story showed her evil. There were times the descriptions brought tears to my eyes. As the tale moved along, it began to slow down. I kept waiting for something big to happen. As it was, this book has everything a first novel in a series should have and I'm anxious to read the second installment. But that big thing never happened. I felt the story dragged on a little, but I was so vested in the outcome, I kept reading. I love the brothers and how close they are. From chapter one, we're shown how they share a piece of one another and it's reinforced throughout the story.
From an Editor's Perspective:
I'm a stickler for errors and highlight any I come across. Misplaced pronouns weren't bad. What I did find was that the text could use a good proofreader to pick up on little errors like: dropped punctuation, homophones, and incorrect tenses of words. None of it was enough to throw me out of the story, but there were over 20 errors in the book.
+1 Star for phenomenal world building
+1 Star for keeping me engaged
+1 Star for description of creatures that really kept my toes curled
+.5 Stars for making me have an emotional reaction to the mother and son
-.5 Stars for the never making anything big happen
+.5 Stars for a couple of highlighted sentences I loved
-.5 Stars for need for a proofreader
Overall, 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended for anyone who loves magic, mages, and dark forces.
I never do this, so you know these passages moved me. My favorite two lines: "Until you place yourself in another man's shoes, do not pass judgment." and "Every man has a weakness, and one must never judge a man for succumbing to that weakness because at one point you might succumb as well. And wouldn't it be nice to have another man understand your pain and mistake?"
I mean, wow. Love it.
This was a very good book. Keepers of Arden is first and foremost the story of Wilhelm, son of a mage, and his brother Salvarias, born of dark magic. It is the interaction between them, as well as between them and their allies, that is the nexus of the book. Wilhelm grows to be a great warrior, the Protector of his brother, and epitomizes all that is good. Salvarias grows to be a powerful mage who is told he is evil, no matter how hard he tries to be good. The interactions between the characters are fantastic. People clearly treat the brothers very differently, which does not mean they care about Salvarias any less.
I must admit there are certain scenes between Salvarias and other characters that I found to be somewhat shocking, but I believe they were necessary to get the character to where he needed to be.
I look forward to reading the next adventure of the brothers (and the sisters now accompanying them).