CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 2 . . . .September 15, 2006
The Separated. (Tales of Terre, Book One).
Weston, CT: Brown Barn Books (Available in Canada from the Publishers Group Canada, 250A Carlton St,. Toronto), 2006.
353 pp., pbk., $16.95.
Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Ronald Hore.
"What you do that for?" asked a girl in the bow of the rocking boat.
"So that I'd never be lost at sea in the dark," explained Marina. "If I can't see the real stars, I can still use magic and Golden Arms to point to the Pole Star and then I can navigate. It's an important spell for a sea-witch to know."
"Oh, that'd be some clever to be able to do that. Are you clever?" asked Ambro with a bright, searching gaze from his amazingly clear, tawny eyes.
Marina sighed and gazed down at her toes gripping the rock's surface, engraved by barnacle shells, and at the clear water slapping against it. "No," she said in a small voice. "My mother thinks I'm stupid. I'm not good at even simple spells. I can't make the Golden Arms soar high enough, or stay hanging up there, or form the Bright Cross. I can't do anything properly."
"I hope you ain't going to cry," said one of the girls kindly, and she threw Marina a candied sea snail that was covered with fluff and dried salt from her pocket. Marina picked the fluff off it and popped it into her mouth and bit it hard until her eyes felt dry.
"Where you'd steal this from?" she teased.
The girl grinned. "That old man, the Reef-fish" he give it to me," she said. "He were out catching fresh snails and I found him one and he give me a candied snail in return."
The first book in a new fantasy series, the story opens with a scheming conversation between an evil sorcerer and his equally villainous teenage daughter. They are plotting to increase the power of the sorcerer, the "evil Lord Maldici" who wants to extend his control to all of the land, at the expense of his older brother. Maldici has driven his brother, Lord Verona, out of the kingdom and confined him to a small portion of the land to the south. To increase the strength of his magic powers and complete the conquest, Maldici wants to gain control of the Corno d'Oro stallion, a mythical unicorn. To find the unicorn, they must track down its Keeper, whose duty it is to keep the animal hidden using her own magic spells.
The plot revolves around the lives of young Vita the Keeper who has doubts about her destiny, her cheerful friend, the boy Giovanni, who lives on the Pirati Islands, Marina the confused daughter of the sea-witch and the witch's reluctant apprentice, and Rosa, Lord Maldici's daughter. You have four teenage protagonists, with all their normal problems of growing up added to the crisis of magics and living in this devious world complete with an Italian Renaissance-like setting.
If this were not problems enough, the Pirati are plagued by Dragomar, a gigantic sea dragon that must be satisfied with a large tribute of gold and jewels on a regular basis or they will suffer dire consequences. As a result, the Pirati are forced to prey on the local shipping to obtain the treasures. Giovanni wants no part of this life that his father thinks he should joyfully embrace.
We have Vita, Giovanni and Marina, all sometimes at cross-purposes, trying to save their world from certain disaster and slavery, with Rosa scheming to bring them down and add the Corno d'Oro to her father's menagerie.
The book, at 353 pages, is a lengthy introduction to the world of Terre. The author uses vivid description, and flowing, often flowery language to paint a broad and very detailed word picture. Included in the book is a full page black and white map which allows the reader to follow the travels of the characters. In this story, we have sea battles, witchcraft, magic, several fantastic creatures, war, cruelty and romance. At the end of The Separated, there are sufficient unresolved crisis to allow the “Tales of Terre” to continue.
This story will appear to many fans of fantasy tales. While seemingly targeted toward the young adult market, (the main characters are sixteen), the book may also appeal to adult fantasy readers as well, especially those who love tales told in a style reminiscent of an Italian Medici mystery.
Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups and writer's workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.
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