In Lourie’s fantasy novel, three young men—one destined for leadership—partake in a dangerous journey to reclaim power for their people.
Despire the fact he’s never noticed, Mikel is different from the other Akrians: His vibrant blue eyes are like no one else’s in the community. His roots, too, are mysterious. Mikel’s been raised by his grandmother, a secretive herbalist, since his parents died after the Great War, or so he’s been told. Before the conflict, the generous Akrians had shared their power with two groups—the Seferians and the Uplandians—but an alliance between the others defeated the Akrians, stripping them of power and basic rights. But just as Mikel turns 18, the Akrians decide to regain control. With his two best friends, the young man leaves all he knows to join the fight. On their physically daunting quest, the trio meets many magical creatures: a cursed sailor, man-eating trolls, sorcerers and a helpful dwarf. It’s clear early on that Mikel will excel in his task; not-so cryptic messages and hunches voiced by multiple characters leave little doubt of that. Readers may wish that author Lourie had dialed down the foreshadowing, as several major plot points are spoiled by heavy hints early on—the meanings behind a motherly embrace from a strange neighbor and the sideways glances between bickering teens will elude few. And yet, the events along the way still captivate, as Mikel and his comrades encounter one harrowing circumstance after another, never certain of who can be trusted. The courageous hero may be fated to win, but he still has to work for it. Mikel doesn’t overcome his challenges without help or without making mistakes, making him a sympathetic protagonist. The book as a whole, however, needs a good edit. Lourie’s writing is wordy and sometimes grammatically incorrect.
Though the end is obvious, the means are worth reading—but only for those willing to overlook flaws in the prose.