I was attracted to this book by two things; the stringed musical instrument on the cover and the fact that the main character, Simon, comes from suburban New York. Coming from New York myself I was curious to learn about Simon’s adventures. Simon doesn’t spend a lot of time in New York; very quickly he is whisked away to a fantasy world. What a fantasy world it is! Inhabited by fascinating characters and drawn into political and religious battles, Simon develops from an uncertain teenage boy to a young man who becomes something of a folk hero in Algavar. The journey to that point is fraught with battles, creatures both good and evil, and life or death choices. The rich tapestry of the fantasy world is brought vividly to life with Sanders colorful descriptions. Some portions of the story are downright gory, but war is usually gory. Incredible characters, especially the Ratlings who terrify me, are liberally sprinkled throughout. Of course there are the “good guys” as well. Sanders does a wonderful job of mixing violence in religion and politics much like the world we currently live in. As Simon’s innocence is torn away my heart breaks for him. But his uncertain youth is left behind as he develops an incredible strength and courage as well as the wisdom to make the right choices. You may notice I have not revealed the details of the mysterious stringed instrument. I leave that to the reader to discover. For lovers of fantasy or those who simply appreciate a good, well told story, I highly recommend this book.
I’m looking forward to Sanders next book which I just pre-ordered on Amazon – The Watchmage of Old New York.