(Review of Part one of the Ancient Mirrors Series The Dragon Queen)
In the second Ancient Mirrors tale, author Jayel Gibson continues the tale of Ædracmoræ two decades past the reunion of Ædracmoræ by the Dragon Queen, Yávië. (Refer The Dragon Queen – An Ancient Mirrors Tale). The Wrekening tells the story of Cwen, niece of the Dragon Queen, Yávië, daughter of the guardians Näeré and Nall, accompanied by her friend Talin, a Feie Brengven and a thief Caen who likes Cwen.
The book is set a couple of decades after the quest by Yávië for the rebirth of Ædracmoræ. Nall and Näeré’s daughter, Cwen is grown up, in her early twenties but in opposition to Nall, has refused to take the oaths of Guardianship and instead roams freely along with her friend Talin. When a chamber filled with an evil army of petrified soldiers known as the G’lm is found by the feie, the Dragon Queen’s council convinces Cwen, Talin, Brengven and the thief Caen to try and locate crystal heart shards of the wyrms. The wyrms were dragon like creatures that hosted the Wreken, a race of powerful beings. These shards are the source of power to reawaken the G’lm and use them to cause massive destruction to the world.
Most of the book deals with the group’s quest to recover the shards as they race against time and others who intend to acquire the shards and use it for evil. The individual quests are handled quite well. The author keeps a good flow between the quests so their recovering thirteen shards do not get tedious though some of them seem just too easy. This is likely a result of the author’s style to keep chapters fairly short, usually 3-5 pages in length. In a similar vein, while the recovery of the shards is enjoyable, the battles between the guardians and the G’lm are not described to its potential. What should have been an epic battle was won overnight with ease.
There are quite a few characters in this book that come and go through the story. Of these, Cwen is the most developed character followed by the character of Caen. Both are shown to change progressively and the fears and thoughts of Cwen are depicted quite well. Why she chooses not to be a guardian, why she kills poachers etc. While the Talin’s character is not given too much depth and seems quite weakly built. Two characters are introduced deus ex machina, Klaed and Lohgaen. One frustrating issue with the story is that even though Laoghaire turns out to be an important character, his background, past nothing is explained. Nor is the reason for Cwen’s fear of a man from her past, Aidan, treated with depth. The fear Cwen has for Aidan is strong. But why that is so, is not explained satisfactorily.
Another point that I found indigestible was the how the characters “break character” abruptly. For example, in one scene, Yávië puts the point of her dagger at Sorel’s (her husband) neck, drawing blood. It just does not seem realistic and definitely not make scene believable. Who shows anger in such a manner? Especially towards their spouse and the one they love? Sorry Jayel, it’s a no go.
Despite the above flaws, the book has a very good story and an open ending with a potential for a sequel. Overall, the book has a very good storyline, a lot of potential but needs tighter editing.
The Dragon Queen is the first part of the “Ancient Mirrors Tale” series by Jayel Gibson. This tale, based in the fantasy world of Ædracmoræ (pronounced Dracmor), is the story of the guardians Yávië and her companions Nall and Rydén resurrected and sworn to protect Ædracmoræ along with the help of other guardians who also become part of the central group of characters.
The book starts off with an interesting background describing the destruction of this world and its subsequent shattering by the Sojourner Alandon. However, Alandon, who is also Yávië’s father establishes prophecies for its rebuilding. Along with the shattering, the souls of the guardians are sent into the stars in a death slumber, awaiting their reawakening. Once resurrected by a group of ancient beings called the Ancients, the first part of the book then deals with the training of the three guardians and certain quests they must perform and gain command of the Dragon Clans (referred to as Flytes) inhabiting their world.
In a similar vein, they go through a variety of tribulations and challenges to reach their eventual goal, the rebirth and reuniting of the shattered pieces of Ædracmoræ. There is another quest which is revealed in the middle parts of the book, the quest for Yávië to regain her birthright, that of the Dragon Queen of Ædracmoræ and finally to resurrect Ædracmoræ by reuniting the seven worlds
The book is fairly long as most fantasy books go but is divided into small comfortable and easy to read chapters. They are not overtly long and usually centered around individual tasks/mini-quests, which are closed within that chapter. However that is the story’s undoing to an extent as well. But more on that la
Jayel Gibson has described the world of Ædracmoræ beautifully, spending lush words in describing its beauty. Even the physical description and skills of the guardians are described in detail, which give a good idea about the guardian being described. The tale itself is very good and holds a lot of promise and creates anticipation within the reader and covers a lot of ground in encompassing three major quests and wrapping it up nicely with the ending suitably closed but open ended enough for a sequel.
The writer however does not satiate the anticipation created in a quest entirely. To ensure the short chapters, a lot of the plot points and tasks feel too rushed. Many of the tasks defined to be “extremely” difficult are achieved with ease and very quickly. It is like Gibson takes us on a crescendo and then let’s go abruptly.
And while the character development is quite good and tight, sometimes they behave inconsistently with their defined characteristics and make the reader feel if they are reading about the same person or someone else entirely.
It would be unfair to compare this book to some of the classic fantasy books but nevertheless; this book stands on its own. It is a good book to read on a long weekend and will provide ample fantasy elements to satiate the reader. However, do not expect the plot development like done by say, Tolkien.