Progeny (The Children of the White Lions Book 1) Kindle Edition
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At first glance, it seems that Kaelin has written a formulaic quest-type fantasy story. He has elves, mages, orcs and Halflings, a sword and magic. I've seen all of these elements appear in stories before. The thing is, I still read many of them, because I'm always looking for one thing I want above all else when I read fantasy. That one thing is story - and without a doubt, Kaelin delivers.
Teenagers Nikalys and his sister Kenders live in a country where magic is outlawed and viewed as something to be feared. When they witness an act of magic that ultimately destroys their tiny village, along with their parents and all the people they know and love, they are forced to leave the only home they've ever known.
Along with their older brother Jak, they undertake a journey that begins with the intention of finding the elf responsible for the destruction of their home. Meetings with several different persons, almost from the start cause Nikalys and Kenders to find out more about a destiny that had been hidden from them. Much more is at stake than they could ever have believed. Progeny is the story of the first step to them becoming who they were meant to be.
Let me backtrack a little however. I have actually read two different versions of this book. The first version (which I received from the author) was longer, but had fewer chapters. There was more setup before the action, and a somewhat slower pacing. The second version I read is the one that's now available for purchase (in e-book format). It has an entirely different prologue, almost twice as many chapters ... but is actually a shorter book.
I was so impressed with the level of storytelling in the original version that I simply had to have the new version, even if it meant that I was basically reading the same book again. I wanted not only to see what had changed, but to know whether Kaelin actually did a better job on the story than the first time around. The changes made the story move along much more quickly. The shorter chapters in particular added a welcome level of tension that resulted in a tighter, more exciting book.
I became quickly caught up in the characters' lives - not only Nikalys and Kenders, but also Broedi, Zecus and especially Nundle - and with each page, wanted to know what was happening with them next. By the ending, I was satisfied with where the story had gone and how the first level of resolution had taken place.
This is an excellent fantasy that you will find yourself wanting to share when you're done. Like me, I think you'll be anxiously awaiting the second book in the series. In the meantime, however, Kaelin also has a series of four collections of short stories which expand on the world created in Progeny. These are also an excellent read, and helped feed the addiction just a little.
Terrene, the world in which this story takes place, is rife with elves, men, halflings, giants, orcs, demons, etc. - all the goodies and baddies that make up high fantasy. They all have their own racial tendencies already familiar to the reader, but the author has not locked his individual characters into these pre-established racial roles. For instance, one of the main bad guys is what I would equate to a "high elf" - a race almost always portrayed as the embodiment of goodness - and he is a real baddie!
The world that has been created by Kaelin feels very "clean" to me. There is a highly ordered calendar complete with evenly spaced lunar cycles and seasons. An established pantheon of gods and goddesses walks the world it shares with its followers - remaining withdrawn from society for the most part, but acting in ways unseen until after the effects of its transgressions have passed. Add to this, a logical and beautiful magic system based off of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series and made original by the author, you have a clean canvas for great works of art to be produced.
The story itself is written very well - especially considering this is the author's own first novel. Sure there are some minor grammatical errors not caught before publishing, however these are few and he does not even have an established publishing house proofing his work before it goes to release. Kaelin is a self published, Indie author! Considering this I give the author a lot of credit for doing such a good job with both the writing and editing before it got to my hands!
Multiple plotlines intertwine to develop a rich story that is both enjoyable and quick reading. It was fun to see how the different characters came together and I appreciated the lack of "soap opera tactics" I find in so many books (i.e. characters somehow neglecting to share crucial details with their companions to further a specific bizarre story line that otherwise would have fallen apart before progressing far enough to matter). Instead, Kaelin builds the story in a manner with which real people might react if they were put in a similar situation.
All of the characters have their own unique personalities that you will fall in love with and they remain true to their idiosyncrasies throughout the book. You really get a feeling you know a character soon after he or she is introduced to you. You will find yourself associating with their different aspects as the plots develop and come to a harmonious conclusion.
I am pleased to give this book five stars and I look forward to the next novel in what I anticipate will be a series on the same level as the Wheel of Time series, The Inheritance Cycle, and the Shannara series.
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