The Arrival – Ascension tells the tale of a war between two city-states that are unwittingly pitted against each other by a mysterious third party and the epic attempts of a motley crew to obliterate the culprit before it is too late. Telaine Le Fay, sorceress of Gothrond, and her comrades are given an assignment to investigate the hostilities as well as mediate a peace settlement between Tyr and Atia, the two largest powers in the known world of Vrold. Their sleuthing reveals the truth about a repulsive piece of ancient history that will mean the total destruction of Vrold. Little do they know that in order to accomplish their assignment and hopefully seek and destroy this ancient archenemy, they will have to work together with an unlikely group of people. Kemp’s fantasy novel includes an interesting mix of war, magic, romance, and comedy built into an otherworldly archaic setting.
There are plenty literary tricks up the sleeves of rising fantasy author Dakota Kemp. Kemp has created a well-developed cast of characters that range from epically classic heroes and underdogs to hideously debased villains. For examples of protagonists: the inimitable Telaine Le Fay whose maverick ways precedes her; Malek, her impassive companion; and their comrade, the powerful yet loquacious Korrigan. Equally amusing among the brutish Tarks is their bookish leader, Jarwulf, and Tor, a conscientious and brave peasant boy who tags along with the infamous troop. Kemp’s list of villains is vast array of mythological creatures, such as minotaurs, a lizard-like monster called a drake, and most notably Grief, a heinous liminal creature.
Kemp does not stop there. His narrative, undoubtedly, is full of violence and all things lethal, befitting a war plot. Yet Kemp lightens his story by deftly including irony and comedic bantering between his protagonist characters. While turmoil continues to rise between Tyr and Atia, his heroic characters have to deal with annoyances, such as the playful teasing between Malek and Korrigan, and another interesting set of sideline protagonists, Jax and Firiel, whose romantic discourse is reminiscent of Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood. They also have to learn how to work alongside enemies, like Jarwulf and Telaine. Kemp incorporates all the above literary tools while alternating between a handful of subplots, which keeps Kemp’s narrative fresh and constantly moving.
An incredibly fun and riveting read – even for non-fantasy readers, The Arrival – Ascension’s cliffhanger ending will definitely leave readers thirsting for its sequel.
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