Evalyce Worldshaper: Mother of Wolves
Kalla kyl’Solidor, a mage, is required to take a magister, a platonic companion and protector. She chooses Aleister, also known as “Sky Fox,” who was on death row in the depths of a hellish prison for mere theft. On their way out of the prison, they encounter a fire wyvern on a rampage, and discover the wyvern has been poisoned and coerced to attack cities. Kalla suspects that Nagali, an evil being that has been imprisoned for generations, is breaking free, and she must find the tools to stop him before her world is plunged into chaos. Kalla and Aleister return to Cryshal Kanlon, a place where mages live and train, and seek to deepen their bond.
High fantasy can be a difficult genre, both to write and read, but it can be a magical experience if done well. An author must put the world in his or her mind to paper and have it be both coherent and interesting enough for the average reader to understand. My expectations for high fantasy are that I can find a character complex enough to relate to and that the world is different enough from other adventure stories that it’s not easily recognizable as being lifted from another author. Also, I expect that the characters are unique and not just bland pasteboards onto which readers can project their own emotions. High fantasy, like all stories, requires a healthy dose of conflict to keep readers’ attention.
J. Aislynn d’Merricksson has credentials in anthropology, philosophy, mythic studies, and mythology, according to her Goodreads bio, so she’s well qualified to formulate and write high-fantasy stories. But does she do it well? Sort of.
The first book in d’Merricksson’s Evalyce Worldshaper series is disappointingly short, only about 150 pages. It’s enough to give shape to the world into which the reader is thrust, but it is not enough to deepen his or her understanding of it. I read and re-read chapters to figure out what was going on and how the world’s societies were structured and how it fit in with Kalla’s journey, but came up with very little. What wasn’t crystal clear became frustrating. Why can Kalla, Vander, and Aleister turn into animals? Is this unusual? How does this fit into the greater hierarchy of the mages? How do the mages fit into society at large? Did I miss the answers to all of these questions while trying to understand some other aspect of this world? Like it or not, high fantasy requires a certain amount of hand-holding until the reader becomes acclimated with his or her surroundings, whether it’s, for example, a digression into the history of a temple or an explanation of the power structure between the followers of one religion and another.
I was thrilled with d’Merricksson’s choice to create a female lead, Kalla, and that Kalla had little to no romantic tension with any of the male characters – despite a few small moments with Aleister that I simply saw as being two people getting to know each other. It was pretty clear later on that the dynamic between Kalla and Aleister is closer to master and servant than of two equals. It doesn’t seem like either of them are interested in one another in a romantic way. Kalla has her “wolf pack” of Aleister and Vander, but they are devoted to each other in the way of a family or a very strong friendship, no romance required. Any fantasy reader will note that there’s a dearth of prominent, well-marketed books with strong women as heroines (whether that’s good or bad – everyone has an opinion), and Kalla has the potential to join the ranks of the very few fantasy heroines who can hold her own.
In the first book, I received a fuzzy view of the author’s grand vision, but I would have liked to see more of it. The story could have slowed down, just a little, to help dumb readers like me understand more of what this world was trying to be. D’Merricksson gives readers a glimpse of an entire world through a keyhole, rather than building a window.
|Author||J Aislynn d'Merricksson|
|Page Count||156 pages|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|
|Category||Science Fiction & Fantasy|