Marianna and Esther Palmer’s debut fantasy-adventure novel takes readers to the world of Telda, where gods and humans with elemental powers battle for control.
During a climactic showdown between Dakchin, Master of Shadows, with his fiancee, Evina, the goddess of time, and the powerful sorceress Simesta, all three are flung forward in time. Simesta lands on Earth, awakens in an alley with no memory of her former life, and takes the name Susan Lane. Meanwhile, Dakchin gathers an army of Elemnors, mages with control over water or ice or disease, and becomes emperor over most of Telda, though he’s still opposed by the village of Firebranch and its king, Cetbal. When Dakchin learns of a mysterious woman on Earth destined to destroy his empire, he sets forth to find and destroy her, little knowing that Cetbal follows. It’s Cetbal who kidnaps Susan, whisking her back to Telda and enlisting her help in the struggle against Dakchin’s dominance. But Susan becomes increasingly attached to Dakchin, believing that he can be swayed back to the side of good, and the fight for Telda rages, even as pieces of Susan’s buried memories resurface. This book favors action over character development and introduces many players whose motivations change easily to propel the story. Enough happens to fill a trilogy—the Palmers have clearly spent time and imagination fleshing out Telda for themselves, its geography, fauna, history, even fashion. Yet while the setting is rich, the characters themselves have little identity, making for a dull story at times. The prose is awkward and breathless throughout: “After all these years, the visits had been practically non-existent, as his mother was what made it home, and she traveled as well, on her quest that she didn’t tell him about.”
Strong in concept, shaky in execution.