In this epic fantasy debut, three special teens set out to find magical artifacts and prevent war from ravaging their world.
Skystead is the capital of Balmora, the largest of nine islands on the world of Eerea. Peace now reigns, but long ago, during the Dawn of Umbra, the vile Mordeus led hordes of ruinous creatures across the land. If not for the courageous primes of the Magelentic Council and the Jadari warriors (as well as a key betrayal), the Dreadmore army would have destroyed Eerea. And yet, humanity “has always sought power above all other things.” The Magelentic Council fears that Balmora sits unprotected should war break out anew. In the annual Tournament of Champions, the primes hope to find a hero capable of retrieving the powerful Crescent Moon of Kydesis. The amulet, unfortunately, was last worn by Mordeus himself and has been lost with his remains. When the tournament reveals three capable teens—Rygar, Velentus, and Taliea—they are dispatched to the temple city of Asnora to find the Decipher Stone of Cophos, which should lead to Mordeus. Meanwhile, in distant Illyria, a boy named Kaiis suffers frequent apocalyptic dreams. As he and his mother travel to a seer in Windermere, his destiny in Balmora’s nightmarish future takes root. In this energetically plotted series opener, Walker balances a large cast in numerous locations (and many classic dungeon crawls) across Balmora. Among the courageous protagonists, Velentus is the potent standout, armed with both telepathy and flame-casting. Rygar frequently provides comic relief; when Velentus wants to sample the Darkroot plant, he quips: “Well, we know who will be the first to die.” Walker also keeps fantasy fans tuned in with a barrage of inventive characters (such as Ecrin the Gorchen), creatures (the batlike Raza), and villains (the merciless Vorkalth). But the author’s inattention to grammar and spelling proves distracting. At least once per page, a word is misspelled or misused, and lines like “As they passed ever suitable inn, they hadn’t stop to properly rest” take readers right out of the narrative.
This earnestly delivered work about a dangerous quest lacks strong editing.