As the world of Narenta enters its second prophesied Tumult, the destinies of three young men are entwined with the coming upheaval. A warrior named Coris chafes under the command of a sadistic lord and is drawn into alliance with renegades, as he thirsts to avenge his father’s murder. Xander, newly arrived from Earth, finds himself the desperate hope of an alien world he barely comprehends, and custodian of a powerful mystic weapon, the Earthbow, that only he can wield–if he can figure out how to use it. Harone is a promising initiate among the enchanters of Narenta, tasked to liberate an ancient enemy who may be key to defeating the forces of evil that are corrupting the land.
Will these three heroes overcome their fears and doubts and rescue Narenta from destruction, despite the daunting forces arrayed against them?
Earthbow continues the epic saga Sherry Thompson began in Seabird, and I suggest readers finish Seabird first, if they can, to gain a better understanding of what’s going on. Earthbow leaps into the story of Coris, Xander, and Harone without preamble, and it covers a lot of territory. Ms. Thompson has created a fascinating world just different enough from our own to be recognizably fantastic and alien, populated with vivid, interesting characters. There’s plenty of adventure, mystery, magic, and intrigue as the forces of good and evil work through their human proxies to steer Narenta’s future.
The characters really made the story for me. I was drawn to all three heroes, but they couldn’t be more different. Xander is brash and overconfident, impatient to take on the challenges of his strange new role. Harone is talented and capable, but painfully aware of his inexperience and limitations. Coris is a courageous and skilled warrior, faithful to the knight’s code of chivalry, but tormented by his leaders’ evil and injustice even as he’s driven by his own dark obsessions. There are many other memorable characters in the supporting cast, both allies and villains, but it’s better that you meet them within the pages of the story.
Earthbow is written with passion and skill. It is very much in the tradition of C.S. Lewis’ and J.R.R. Tolkien’s spiritually-themed fantasy adventures, infused with themes of courage, self-sacrifice, faith, loyalty, honor, and redemption. It’s also a long haul. As the title implies, the story of the Earthbow is not finished at the end of Volume 1. It’s only begun. We’re left with more of a time-out than a tidy conclusion, which will frustrate some readers but likely leave more of them (including myself) eager for the arrival of Volume 2.
Note to Parents: I think this story would appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy heroic fantasy, though the vocabulary is a bit advanced for younger children. As I recommend with any book, read it yourself first before you share it with your kids, and if you can, make a little family time and read it along with them. There is some medieval swordplay and bloodshed typical of the genre, but nothing excessive or gratuitous. One particularly tragic death may provide an opportunity for serious discussion between parents and children.
>>This review is based upon a copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the author, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits.<<