In sibling authors Shaffer and Shaffer Kaminski’s debut novel, the first volume of a trilogy, a young dwarf with magical powers undertakes an important mission.
Although 50 years old, bookish dwarf Gavrin is a youth. At the requisite foretelling ceremony to determine his life path, Gavrin learns he is a mage, one of only three in existence. In the past, power-hungry Mezzarin, also a mage, abused his powers; although not dead, he has been asleep for hundreds of years. Another mage, wise Mellarin, is rumored to live in Northern Alzrith, far from Gavrin’s home of Sanctuary. Although Gavrin would rather remain with his mother, the beautiful Belvin, it is his mission to locate Mellarin, from whom he will receive valuable instruction in using his powers. Accompanying Gavrin on his journey are the brave warrior Thundermark, a son of King Meteormark; the human Brill, a sergeant in the King’s Army; the giant Karnik; and Palar, a somewhat reformed thief. In this first installment of three, characters are introduced along with some lore, including how Gavrin must find six valuable and powerful talismans in various locations throughout the land. This volume seems less a stand-alone book than a set of introductory chapters with an ending that suggests what’s to come. Thus far, the villains, although portrayed as self-interested and evil, don’t act particularly evil. Gavrin—an emotional and exceedingly decent fellow—vacillates between childlike and adult perspectives, as teens do. He’s given to weeping (even in passages that don’t seem to warrant it) and capable of mercy, as when he saves Palar from beheading; however, he and his companions abandon a treacherous bridge keeper to a cruel fate. The story, which seems best suited for tweens and younger, is clearly and simply told and evenly paced, with little violence or edge. That said, there are the occasional inspired moments; in particular, an encounter with a runaway dragon ends unexpectedly and humorously.
Pleasant “chosen one” YA fantasy, with little tension, a few bracing scenes, and a likable hero.