To rescue his captured mother in a multirealm universe, Widseth must use his newfound powers to defeat an evil ruler and his dragons of darkness.
Nearly 18-year-old Widseth is ready for his mother, Vandria, to stop treating him like a boy. Yearning for her trust, he hopes she’ll share the shadowy truth that their simple millworking lives conceal. When Vandria disappears, Widseth finally learns his family’s magical, dangerous history: Vandria is actually a 132-year-old royal Aelfene—the race of a wealthy, hidden kingdom. She’s an expert warrior with powerful mental abilities, but the ancient, long-thought-fabled, evil Lord Ruga has managed to take her prisoner. With his ability to control dragons, Ruga intends to use secrecy and fear to rule multiple worlds. Widseth, equipped with knowledge of his heritage, some new friends and a mysterious key, takes off on a quest to stop the evil leader’s nefarious plans. Baird’s first in a trilogy includes princes, swords, spells and otherworldly creatures—all the typical ingredients of an epic fantasy—as well as well-crafted figurative language. Action proceeds rapidly, so much so that readers may need to take notes in order to keep track of characters, locations and the strategy behind the quest. More details would have benefited the vaguely defined folklore and worldbuilding rules that fuel Baird’s setting. In fact, the compelling but hastily recounted back story regarding Widseth’s parents could sustain an entire prequel if duly elaborated. Also, the moralizing lessons are often too obvious: Symbols of light and darkness contrast honorable and corrupt societies and characters as part of the novel’s unoriginal duality.
Chaotically paced, but lovers of the genre will enjoy this good-vs.-evil tale with all the traditional accoutrements.