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Shadows of the Realm (The Circle of Talia Book 1) Kindle Edition
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However, before it came to the last chapter, which is not the end of the story, I was plunged into a different character situation. I can see it coming together slowly as it unfolds. Just when I was getting to anticipate that, the book ends and I am hustling to get the next one. That is always provocative leaving me bereft and eager to purchase the next novel in the series.
Still, I love the story and eager to get the rest of the adventure.
"Here be Dragons".~ Early European map makers' warning
There have always been dragons, and not just on the pages of fantasy books. I would like to think that someday we will discover bones of a real dragon which make the early map maker's warning be true. But in the case of Dionne Lister's books, these dragons are both terrifying as well as loveable.
One critic claimed she thought she was reading high fantasy and found she wasn't. Obviously does not know the definition of high fantasy. Dionne Lister complies to all the aspects of what high fantasy is suppose to do. It has characters who are young and not worldly. There are wise mentors with mysterious pasts raising and guiding the youths into the future. A way of life and world is in need of saving and only a few can do it and are prophesied too. There is magic all around and in every part, not just with a wave of a wand or a wiggle of a nose but in the prose. Mystery and darkness, good and evil are present and at odds. Honor, dishonor and a past event which changed the world and paths of all, happened at one point affecting the main players. And the big part?? DRAGONS!! This time they are not just hanging on a wall or in legends, the story is steeped and truly centers around them! How does it make it any different and why should you try this series out? ...these same dragons had also started rumours that some of them occasionally liked to eat people. Zim, however, was not one of these dragons." - Shadows of the Realm - on the prince of the dragons.
I would like to say Dionne waved her magic wand and sent a big bad Dragon to threaten to clear my McDonald's of workers and prevent my occasional feasting on nuggets, but the truth is she wrote an epic fantasy that was not an 800 page tome with so many convoluted names and so many different storylines my 13 year-old, as smart as he is would be put off! Don't get me wrong, I occasionally live for those tomes, I am a huge fan of David Eddings and Robert Jordan and Zelazny but the themes are not approachable for all the ages. Then she comes up with these absolutely beautiful images, the descriptions are not that of a police blotter. She is able to say how someone looks and how they are as a person all in a couple sentences. "...had a short white hair; a long white beard adorned his lined face. He exuded the calm and mystery of a still lake. His dark, intelligent eyes were full of life, twinkling with the promise of jokes yet to be told, mischief yet to be unleashed." Shadows of the Realm - on Agmunsten
Dionne's story and characters are written into a realm that is approachable and readable for anyone from the age of 12 to 99. Everything which is taken to be the conventions of an epic fantasy novel is here but written with the young adult in mind. She has woven the characters and stories in with humor and given her readers real people to believe in and cheer for. Her teens in this coming of age are real, they are moody, snarky, occasionally rude and in need of discipline and guidance all the time. They are not savants in the realm of propriety and manners, they are like the same gifted children you have in your house, their appetites are bottomless, they huff and puff and think the world revolves around them They grow, learn and realize as the stories go on the world revolves around everyone and more than that, especially in this series. Like any good fantasy, there is much more than meets the eye. These things alone makes the story a wonderful read for young adults! She makes the dragon's a little over the top, superior and full of pomp and circumstance, but best of all, she makes them funny and likeable.
There are some very real and serious situations that come up that are intense and frightening. I found myself holding my breath at times waiting to find out what the story held for the characters I was so invested in. From the very first sentence I fell in love with a young boy who was interested in catching frogs yet who dreamt of a frightening creature threatening his life and following with the introduction to our female teenager who was going to throw herself off a cliff because of being forced to leave the only life she had known.
Epic is right, over the top and yet at the same time real. A teacher once told me a reader does not get invested in the story, they get invested and care about the characters, the story just follows behind them. This was certainly true with both of these books. I can't even put my finger on one specific thing she has done, it is everything from her wonderful colorful writing to her believable loveable and despicable characters. I laughed out loud, I sobbed with grief and sighed with relief all the while unable to stop reading (I am not kidding, go check my sharing on this book). The magic system is original and touching, the evil is dark, the good are not perfect and even though there are gruesome scenes of real horror these just lead to it all being an amazing tale.
This is the first book, and it has an incredibly intense cliffhanger. I was so glad I had book two. You will find a place in your heart for so many of these characters, I wonder though, which one is yours?
Dionne has managed to take all these lovely ingredients, bringing them together in this series to create an incredible feast. These books are not a box of chicken nuggets more like a love pair of roast pheasants.. or goat.. or the whole cow slaughtered in award winning BBQ. My only issue? She has not written book three yet...
Dionne Lister invented not one, but three worlds in Shadows of the Realm. She had to create entire cities, cultures, species (including the feared maneaters of the Third Realm), a unique brand of magic, and a nation ruled by dragons. It is a tremendous, epic work. And it is eminently believable.
Like the best fantasy writers, Dionne Lister makes her characters and the events they live through so convincing that their way of speaking invades your lexicon. I have found myself thinking "What in the Third Realm is going on here?" The Third Realm, in case you haven't guessed, is Hell.
At the same time, Shadows of the Realm has everything else you could want - novice magicians on their first quest (the success of which will literally save the world), palace intrigue, horrific monsters, mind-reading animals who do what you tell them, noble practitioners of ancient magic, and dragons.
The book ends on a cliffhanger, but good news - the adventure continues in the sequel. I purchased it the day it came out and couldn't wait to get started.
Shadows of the Realm is a fantasy classic that I am confident can hold its own among the best of the genre.
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