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The MoonQuest: The Q'ntana Trilogy, Book I Paperback – January 18, 2014
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Na'an came to me in a dream this night. It was early. I had not been in bed long and the night was newly dark.
"It is time," she said, "time to fix The MoonQuest on parchment."
I was gladdened to see her after so many seasons, but I was not cheered by the message she bore. I tried to engage her in other discourse, but she was single-minded as only a Tikkan dreamwalker can be.
"It is not for me to boast of my exploits," I argued. "Others have sung them. Let them continue."
"No," she said, and her silver tresses shimmered as she shook her head. "It is your story to tell. It is for you to fix it in ink, to set the truth down for all to read."
I tried to resist, to shut Na'an's words from my heart, to return to the dreamless sleep that preceded her appearance. But Tikkan speak only what we know in our hearts to be true, and my heart would not close to her even as my mind longed to. Only by forcing my eyes open and my body to this table was I able to banish her milk-white face from my mind's eye. Only by letting my quill rasp across the blank parchment have I stilled her voice.
But my quill hovers over oceans of emptiness. I don't know what to write, where to begin. The story has so many beginnings and no clear ending. As a bard, as Elderbard, I am trained to know how to weave disparate elements into a tapestry of word and song that brings light and meaning to life. When recounting others' stories, I have no difficulty. The tales unfurl from my tongue as if by magic, as if M'nor herself were singing through me.
Na'an says it is my story. Perhaps she is right. Is that why the words come so reluctantly? So many seasons of storytelling and still I hesitate. Of all the stories to stick in my throat, how ironic that it should be The MoonQuest, a tale of the freeing of story itself.
You see how confused I am? I have not even introduced myself. My truth name is Toshar and I am old, so old that most who knew me by that name have passed on to other worlds.
Toshar... Even I have forgotten the boy who was Toshar, the youth who embarked on The MoonQuest all those seasons ago.
They call me Ko'lar now, the ancient word for Elderbard. It is a sign of honor and respect, but it separates me from the youth I was.
Perhaps Na'an is right. Perhaps it is time to bring back Toshar, to allow the boy I was to touch the man I have become, the man I will soon cease to be. Soon it will be time to release the ageless spirit from this aged body and move on to other realms, set off on other journeys. I have seen it and I welcome it. But it cannot be mine until I have told this story. Na'an insists.
She speaks, even as I sit here in full wakefulness, staring at the shadows cast by my flickering taper. Now, they loom, large and menacing. Now, they flit and flutter in delicate dance. I see it all now, in the leap of light against dark. The shadows will tell me the story and I will write what I see. I will write until my fingers and beard are black with ink. I will write until the story is told.
Only then will I be free to continue my journey. Only then will my daughter, Q'nta, be free to continue hers. She is nearly ready. Ryolan O Garan taught her well, taught her the lessons of The MoonQuest. Soon she will live them through my words and will be free to assume the mantle of her birthright, according to the ancient orders of succession:
From father to daughter, mother to son
The mantle passes, the Balance is done
I was an exception to the Law of Balance, a law as old as the land itself. But those were exceptional times, the darkest of ages, in a land where "once upon a time" was a forbidden phrase and fact the only legal tender.
That was the land I was born into, a land of slaughtered bards, a land dulled and divided by fear. That was Q'ntana, and this is its story, and mine...a story that begins once upon a time. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
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Top customer reviews
It reminded me why I used to love fantasies once upon a time. The author managed to spin a quest tale that's true-to-form at its core, yet new and fresh in its imaginative spin on the details. Plus, the writing itself is stellar. What's not to love? This book may not be... old... but it's worthy of being called a classic.
Roger D. Smith
But there is nothing to compare with The Moonquest by Mark David Gerson. He is to be highly commended for his creative mind, his wonderful characters and his ability to make it all come to life on paper. His words truly paint a picture! I am proud to own this book. It is available on Amazon books. I reccommend it highly for all libraries and book stores.
Teacher of Poetry
Brooklyn College City University of New York
Author of Poetry Unplugged (outskirts press)
I will say I enjoyed the beginning pages because they were full of descriptive and rich language, however I soon felt lost in the plot as I read further. At the beginning Toshar and his friend Yhoshi set out on a quest, but they have no idea where they are going, beyond a vague "find M'nor" and "restore Q'ntana". Thus, Toshar is called to have a vision, since he is a bard, to guide them forward. The following pages that detail his vision were so psychedelic that I had difficultly following them. And at the end of this "vision-journey," Toshar suddenly ends up in a new place and his friend is miraculously there waiting for him. This lack of plot progression exists throughout the book so that it is difficult to follow and piece non-existent clues together. I suppose you could say that this book is supposed to be like this, since Gerson's spiritual and New Age philosophies seeped through the pages in contradictions. I felt like the mantra of the entire book is: "There is a purpose to your quest, but you should accept that you won't know that purpose or understand it. Accept the contradiction" and this isn't satisfactory for me. Also, these confusing events do not stop with the beginning, but happen often within the plot, where the characters magically (literally, with magic) escape the bad guys who somehow show up everywhere they go. I will call this convenient plot escapes, and even within the realm of fantasy, it was too much to swallow for me.
Another major disappointment I had when reading this book is character development. At the end of Toshar's first "dream-travel," they meet another female character named Fynda who is abused by her father. I would say this is a spoiler for the book, but literally within pages of meeting her, it is revealed she has been sexually molested. You would think that a sexually molested woman wouldn't reveal her pain to men she just met, but she literally info-dumped this to Toshar and Yhoshi without a convenient, "I don't know why I'm telling you this but…"
This is just one way that Fynda seemed unrealistic, but I also have another major SPOILER that makes me think Gerson may need to read Mark Twain's 18 rules of writing. SPOILER: Gerson felt the need to detail a RAPE DREAM to the audience towards the end of the book. I mean, GRUESOME detail of a Rape that DIDN'T happen. I skimmed through most of this because I was disgusted, however, I read enough to know that this was way too much detail. This unnecessary dream is, I believe, supposed to be an example of how Fynda frees herself from her past and becomes a better person. However, Gerson did not connect the dots for the readers and left me feeling disgusted instead of sympathetic towards Fynda's dream. As a writer, I think that Gerson should have showed Fynda's emotional scars more than he did to make this dream effective. He should have made her more shy around the three men she traveled with, and unwilling to assert herself throughout it. Instead, Gerson had Fynda stripping and swimming nude before the men without a care in the world, and unafraid of any man she came in contact with. Is this really the behavior of someone who has been abused? I think not. Fynda is just ONE of the characters that are flat, and I would also assert that Yhoshi and Gara, other supporting characters are flat as well. But for brevity, I think I will just stick with my analysis of Fynda to prove my point.
This may be a scathing review, but it is honestly said because I had hoped that this book would deliver more than it did. The beautiful descriptions Gerson gives are wasted on inadequate plot and character development. Instead, I would want Gerson to take his fables, which are incorporated throughout the book as Toshar's "visions" and make them into short stories. I'd enjoy reading them much more than this book.