Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Book Review: Gift of the Destroyer by Jeroen Steenbeeke
Gift of the Destroyer
by Jeroen Steenbeeke
Available in ebook and paperback
Cover design by Michael Gauss
A thousand years ago, the people of Arvaya made a mistake. The survivors fled, leaving the remnants of their once advanced civilization behind. Today, these lands are called the Forbidden Lands. It is a land from which no one has ever returned. It is also the only route Lianna and Brenor can use to reach the Northlands.
Hunted by the relentless murderer Skayd, Lianna must trust on Brenor to lead her through safely. Only by mastering her Gift of the Destroyer can they hope to reach the other side, where they must find a man named Arek, who is destined to destroy the world.
Lianna has grown up on a farm near Rennick, one of the Seven Villages and thinks she has little to worry about except telling her father that she is pregnant by the blacksmith's son and they aren't wed yet. A wounded and scarred stranger to the village one day soon changes all that and Lianna is caught up in an adventure not of her making. The stranger, Brenor is being hunted and he's brought the danger to the once peaceful village.
Lianna's lover is killed, along with her great-aunt, the village wise woman. Brenor explains that Lianna is a Destroyer, she can manipulate elements to her will such as fire and air and that she must travel with him to gain mastery over these gifts and help him save the world.
I have to admit I thought Lianna going off with Brenor quite so quickly jarred a bit. She'd just seen her husband-to-be murdered, a stranger tells her even stranger things and off she goes with him! I think I would have been a bit more wary, but then I'm not a feisty heroine in a fantasy novel. And Lianna is feisty, there's no doubt about that. Don't let the fact that she's a young woman, pregnant, grieving and in fear for her life make you think she's weak: she's far from it. It's so refreshing to see strong heroines in fantasy novels, in far too many I've read they've been the damsel in distress, but I think that trope is gradually fading out in more recent ones.
From there, we have the normal fantasy quest as Brenor and Lianna set out to cross the Forbidden Lands and get to the Northlands and find the man who will one day destroy the world. I liked the little hints we get of the previous peoples and their technologies etc. throughout the book, rather than everything being told at once.
The author has a flair for world building and has created a fantastical world, but which still seems believable for the limitations he's set out in his creation. It's a tightly-plotted, fast-paced fantasy that very easily draws the reader in. The characters are interesting, even the villains have depth, but it's Lianna and Brenor we get to see most of and it's their joint quest that's at the heart of the book.
If you like traditional fantasy but with a bit of a twist, give this one a try.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby