In this Christian fantasy debut, a group of adventurers attempts to cross an evil realm.
Travelers have long come to the village of Noy in Drugolin’s westlands to gaze upon the great dark forest that marks the country’s edge. A few even dare to enter it. They often stay at the Hillmaster Inn owned by Eagan Argyle, who has ventured into the forest, though he barely escaped with his life. But Eagan has been planning a return, and thinks he has finally found a suitable party to travel with, composed of a wealthy miner and some of his friends. Apparitions of otherly visitors in the last few days have helped convince Eagan it is time, particularly one who gives him a magic lampstand that, when lit, projects prophetic images on the walls. Other, malevolent visitors—servants of the dark lord Sahron—also appear to warn the explorers that they will find only death before them, but Eagan and his companions choose to brave the dangers. If they can make it through the wilderness to the other side, they will find the greatest possible reward: Shamayim, the paradisiacal home of Yahwin, the Creator of the world. Will Eagan—guided by prophecy, angelic helpers, and his own knowledge of otherly ways—have the faith necessary to lead his band through the territories held by Sahron and his minions? Norris’ prose is appropriately epic for the high fantasy setting, and the characters speak with the requisite Tolkienian gravitas: “Men of Drugolin, to the task at hand. The times you have known previously are no longer upon you. Sahron is mustering his principalities at this moment to move out of his grave, and no one within the month will be free to change their minds.” What sets this world apart from other fantasies is the Christian worldview: Eagan and his friends are followers of “Krystos, Yahwin’s only begotten son,” and much of the tale’s backstory harkens to the book of Revelation. Christians who love high fantasy should enjoy this combination, though more secular readers may find the overlap detracts more than it adds to the narrative.
A fully realized, if sometimes dry, religious high fantasy.