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Yes, I’ve been remiss in reviewing my (online) friend Denton Salle’s novelette Sworn to the Light: The Avatar Wizard – Book 1 (of four).
However, I did download it onto my Kindle Fire last month and last night I finished it.
Excellent work. A very compelling YA Fantasy work that I think my grandson would enjoy (although he prefers audio books).
A lot of Denton’s works are based on Slavonic wonder tales he learned from his grandfather, so you need to know that going in. The local is rather “Russian” in its architecture at least.
Eleven-year-old Jeremy visits his father’s homeland with his parents, in part because Jeremy has a problem. He spontaneously turns into a panda bear cub. He can’t control the change and he can’t control the bear once he’s transformed.
His father’s companion from a mysterious and war torn past, Anthony agrees to take Jeremy on as an apprentice and ward.
Much of the story is Jeremy’s “coming of age” tale about studying the various arts including “the flow” (magic), but there’s an undercurrent of a coming battle echoing the past, a battle between the light and darkness.
The book has its amusing aspects of course, with several of the young women of the keep finding Jeremy’s alter ego cute and cuddly (a plushie).
But then true evil in encountered, first in another student, the son of a foreigner who is discovered bound to the dark, and then the boy’s father and countrymen who blame Anthony for the boy’s death.
Not all out war, but a skirmish of sorts breaks out. It’s interesting to see this all from Jeremy’s point of view since he can’t engage in most of the conflict (though he does heroically save Anthony’s life). This part could have bombed, but Denton managed to portray the action as seen through Jeremy’s eyes very well.
There are several jumps in time, so the narrative isn’t entirely cohesive, and by the end of the book, Jeremy is thirteen and has just passed his second initiation test. The story ends rather abruptly at that point with several plot threads left hanging.
That said, it was a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy read, one I’d recommend for teen and adult alike. Gave it five stars on Amazon. Looking forward to the next installment.
Oh, as an aside, anyone who knows the author personally knows of his affection for pandas, so Jeremy’s avatar has an underlying meaning.
Addendum: Here’s my “Three-minute or less book review” of Salle’s story.