October 08, 2011

The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey

Would I call this the best fantasy written? Of course not, it borrows many elements from all over, but what Mallory and Lackey have done with this book, is make it entertaining and captivating, and for that reason I like it very much. This book is the first in what is known as the Obsidian Trilogy and it does make a very good beginning.

Kellen is almost your average boy. Except that he's not. He's mageborn and not to just any mage, he is the son of the Arch-Mage Tavadon, leader of all the mages in the city of Armethalieh. He isn't like his father at all however. He longs for freedom and new things (market wares and the people of Armethalieh for that matter are closely controlled by the mage rulers to discourage dissent). He also isn't very good at the High Magic practiced here. That's why, when three strange books find him, he is very susceptible to what they hold. These are outlawed books in his city, books that contain the Wild Magic. He snoops into them and eventually is caught out and banished from the city. With the help of Shalkan, a unicorn sent by the wild magic to protect and guide him, he makes it out of the city's boundaries alive.

Fortune smiles on his and he is able to reunite with a sister he never knew about. But nothing stays peaceful forever, His father cannot rest with him having escaped and widens the city's borders to come after him, driving him into Elven lands. Here to are problems. An unnatural drought has taken hold of the Elven lands and they are in danger because of it. With Idalia his sister, the elves are relying on Kellen to help them and defeat whatever is behind this strange drought. With Idalia working magic from home, Kellen takes off with Shalkan and a Knight elf named Jermayan to fulfill his quest despite the dangers along the way.

It is easy to like the characters in this book. With the exception of a few, they are well written and you come to truly care for them and what happens to them. There are a few that are written very heavy handed though. Kellen's father, for example, is the biggest misogynist you'll ever read and it definitely makes him unlikeable, which is what the authors wanted.

For having been written by two writers, the writing is smooth and flows easily. The very beginning is slow to start but the book soon finds it's pace and the description is well done. There really isn't anything offensive in this book and pre-teens on up could probably read it easily. There are a few instances of adult humour, but the more innocent wouldn't get the joke.

I really like this series and eagerly look forward to reading the next in the trilogy. It may be the same old fantasy as a lot of novels, but at least it is interesting.

The Outstretched Shadow
Copyright 2003
711 pages

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