This fantasy debut features a band of heroes scrambling to prevent the overthrow of its world by a power-hungry emperor.
Zaendara is a continent of Inner Earth, populated by elves, dwarves, fairies, giants, and humans. Ygl is a general among the forest-dwelling Lorel Elves, with a mate named Thalla and a 14-year-old son called Limbus. One day, during a dance festival commemorating spring, a curious mist creeps through the trees. When the mist reveals demons, Ygl attempts to use his natural telepathy and his sword, Welbern, to vanquish them. He fails, blacks out, and wakes up some distance from home, separated from his family. Luckily, he was rescued by Juna (a fairy), Kute (a giant), and Ding (a dwarf). They are on the road to see another tribe of elves in the Khun Forest. While traveling, Ygl realizes he’s in possession of an exotic lamp. Rubbing its jewels causes a rune-infused gas to billow forth. The genie, Swen, tells him: “Once thee reaches the forest, it is the beginning of the test.” What the band doesn’t yet know is that Emperor Rondo of the Quirmean Empire has been enthralled by the evil god Xurchon. Rondo searches for a powerful, mystical item called the jode, which will help him conquer one segment of Zaendara after another. In this quirky series opener, Selarom relishes the use of classical fantasy and mythological elements—like giant spiders and the monstrous manticore—while also experimenting with language. A strong current of LGBTQ advocacy runs through the narrative, with Kute being bisexual and Ygl expressing horror at gay elves enduring persecution in Khun. Each race uses common words uniquely, with the dwarves, for example, calling their king a “Diamond.” This component of the prose is fun, but much of Selarom’s writing is complicated by overwrought sentences. In the description of Swen, for example, readers are told: “The dress’ vacuous bodice displayed the preceding vague extraordinary archaic symbols, with lacking luster, fluxed within the gases.” There’s an energetically told story in these pages, but purple prose will likely narrow the audience.
A potentially engaging fantasy series hampered by overly elaborate prose.