A fantasy romance novel that shows much promise as the kickoff to a series.


From the Legacy Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A princess must choose between her kingdom and her true love.

  Princess Alera, heiress to the throne of Hytanica, has reached a crossroads in her life. She has agreed to marry to benefit her kingdom. But Alera is displeased with her father’s choice of suitor, the egocentric and arrogant Lord Steldor. Selected for his firm hand and military skill, Steldor can expect to wield much power over the inquisitive and spirited princess–Hytanic tradition favors the rule of males, so Alera must settle down and defer to her leading man. As preparations for marriage are made, the return of a long-lost child of Hytanica, Narian, from the rival Cokyri people sends shockwaves through the kingdom–and Alera’s heart. The Cokyri are renowned for their violent and bloodthirsty ways, and Narian is welcomed warily by the masses. Alera is quick to warm to him–he is mysterious and daring, fearless and capable. And Narian takes her seriously. Their clandestine relationship leads Alera to take dangerous risks, especially when the Cokyrians’ plans to reclaim Narian as their own come to light. The looming conflict jeopardizes their nascent love affair, as well as the whole of Hytanica. The princess finds herself not only pitted between two suitors but forced to decide between her royal obligations and her heart’s deepest desire. Debut novelist Kluver’s solid world-building skills flesh out this dynamic coming-of-age romance with strong detail and cultural development. Alera is fiery and likable and will find favor among young adult readers. Lively secondary characters, with the exception of a somewhat flat depiction of Steldor, and sharp dialogue, combined with richly imagined Hytanic legend and history, keep the pace of this epic moving until the last scene. However, the tale’s abrupt cliffhanger leaves both major story lines frustratingly stalled until the sequel.

A fantasy romance novel that shows much promise as the kickoff to a series.

Pub Date: April 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-9802089-7-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2011

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In 1880s New York, a young lad with inadequate means but an abundance of character uses his head, heart, and fists to battle his way out of the tenements. Johnny Woods works 12 hours a day at a sweatshop ironing men’s shirts. Since his father deserted his mother and five younger brothers and sisters, this 15-year-old youngster has valiantly toiled to help put bread on the table. Desperate for some extra cash, he signs up to box in a bar, only to get arrested—fighting was then illegal—and thrown into prison. In an unexpected twist, it’s the best thing that ever happened to him. There he meets Michael O’Shaunnessey, “Professor of the Science of Boxing,” and a “born teacher.” Returning home fit and trained, Johnny finds a paucity of job opportunities for politically unconnected and uneducated youths like himself, except in the boxing ring. There he soon piles up an impressive string of victories. Hard-working and kind, Johnny returns to school, spending his meager spare time with his five siblings, giving them by turn the treat of his undivided attention. Karr’s first-person narrative is fast-paced and instantly engrossing, and she captures her character’s dreams and dilemmas as well as the rhythm and excitement of the boxing matches, and the scenes, scents, and squalor of tenement life. Although Johnny is a little too good to be true, readers should be rooting for the kid with the killer punch and the soul of a Boy Scout both in and out of the ring. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2000

ISBN: 0-374-30921-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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Familiar territory plumbed afresh; fantasy fans should be pleased.


From the The Kingmakers' War series , Vol. 1

A girl who has been dismissed and distrusted for most of her life must prove herself in this quest novel.

Briand Varryda dresses like a boy and is the unwanted ward of her uncle. Denied education and often even food, she realizes that her only friends are her cousin Bran and, sometimes, the soldier Tibus. Briand can look after herself: She’s good with a knife and light on her feet. But this time, she’s in real trouble. Briand has cleaned out one soldier too many at the card game Dubbok. When Tibus saves her from vengeful pursuers, he has no choice but to then turn her over to Kael, steward of her uncle’s castle—who has a reputation for cruelty and who, with the help of Bran’s loathsome tutor, Nath, is conducting secret experiments involving young noblemen and poisonous snakes. Kael gives her one last chance. Briand tries to go straight; she attempts to do the right thing. But when she intervenes in one of Kael’s experiments, she gets more than she bargained for. By passing a test meant for Bran, Briand becomes a “dragonsayer,” with “the ability to speak to and sometimes control animals of magic, particularly dragons.” From despised guttersnipe, she has now risen to being the kingdom’s last hope against the usurper prince and his deadly Seekers—but that’s no reason for her companions to think any better of her. In this short novel, Ellison (With Tide and Tempest, 2014, etc.) takes fantasy tropes and makes them feel original. The same achievement can be seen in characterization. Briand and all the others are easily recognizable types but still seem unique. Briand, in particular, is somehow not the typical orphan who makes good. This is made possible by the author’s no-nonsense prose and pacing and some astute worldbuilding. The necessary background details (with the exception of some that find their way into speech) are foreshadowed rather than dumped. This allows Briand to forge her own path and for the story to grip and take hold. Although this is the first book in a series, the plot is largely self-contained. Readers will be left with closure but still wanting more.

Familiar territory plumbed afresh; fantasy fans should be pleased.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5028-7264-7

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2019

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