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Fantasy/Science Fiction

Book reviews on Fantasy and/or Science Fiction.

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    5* A magical time travel adventure

    A musical fantasy

    Book one of the Guardians Trilogy

    5* Totally captivating - a refreshing spin on Sci-Fi

    A Dark-Hunter novel

    The Seekers, Book One

    Volume 1 of a new fantasy series

    Morgan Rice's Rise of the Dragons features some fairly common devices in fantasy these days: dragons (of course), a feisty female protagonist (once an exception, now more of a norm), a quest, and a coming of age story set against the backdrop of a desperate mission. If you take these elements of formula fantasy genre writing and apply them here, outwardly the result sounds much like many other books. But the real test of a work that is different lies in what the author does with the characters, setting, and plot: how characterization is handled, how struggles are depicted, and - most importantly - how much a reader can relate to the various conflicts and influences of the protagonists. Herein lies the opportunity for riches - and Rise of the Dragons succeeds in incorporating depth and an intriguing twist into a plot which could otherwise all too easily have been considered a too-predictible approach. Now, many fantasies paint pictures of other worlds. The better ones immerse readers in those worlds - as Rise of the Dragons does from the start. It's difficult to paint an environment rich enough to actually feel the crunch of snow beneath one's feet, the unusual landscape of 'purple pine trees', and the efforts of a girl who 'never fit in' to accept not the domestic duties expected of girls, but the warrior powers she's inherited from her father Morgan Rice. But the saga succeeds - right from the start - in creating this all-important scene, juxtaposing Kyra's strengths and interests with the physical environment and social influences around her. Immersion: it's what a superior fantasy is all about - and this feel is evident in a story that begins, as it should, with one protagonist's struggles and moves neatly into a wider circle of knights, dragons, magic and monsters, and destiny. It's easy to create formula writing that's predictable. Moving from one-dimension to three-dimensional thinking, however, takes attention to detail and streamlining characters, settings, and purposes in such a way that readers feel involved in the story and its outcome; not distanced in the role of the dispassionate observer. It's all too easy to use action-packed adventure to overcome a lack of protagonist development, but Rise of the Dragons avoids this common trap and takes the higher road of involvement - and that's what makes this series opener a recommended winner for any who enjoy epic fantasy writing fueled by powerful, believable young adult protagonists.

    The latest in The Vampire Chronicles

    Ustari Cycle series

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