Monday, April 21, 2014

Routine Change

At last my routine will change!

I may grow lazy but I feel I have been given this opportunity to finally work hard on improving myself and on doing all the things I have been postponing for months.

I will certainly read more. Write more. I have to write more!

I have several books on writing that I need to read and use their exercises to prompt my own writing. I’ll try to challenge myself more with the weekly #Visdare, five-sentence fiction, and Flash Friday! contests.

I will certainly continue to work on finding a new job but in the meantime I’ll take some time to relax, work out, enjoy life, go out, spend more time with family and friends and did I mention read more? ;)
And I will certainly get back to blogging twice to thrice per week.

I have never been so excited in my life!

Thank you God, for everything!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Elven Jewel by Kasper Beaumont - Book Review

Elven Jewel by Kasper Beaumont is the first instalment in the Hunters of Reloria series, which for me feels like it has many similarities with The Lord of the Rings. Elven Jewel, however, is written for a much younger audience.

Elven Jewel opens with the halflings having fun but suddenly see invading Vergai beasts, described as “reptilian creatures”. I couldn’t help but picture them as walking crocodile-like creatures.
Soon, we are thrown into a quest to seek out the elves and warn them of the incoming Vergai, who seek to steal the jewel that maintains the safety of the planet. However, the halflings and others become part of a bigger company that journey to battle the Vergai and rescue Princess Shari-Rose and the planet.

The idea of 'halflings' is reminiscent of the Hobbits in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy; however the halflings of Reloria are bound by their bond-fairies, whom they can’t live without. This is sometimes helpful but can be disagreeable, as in the story told by Sir Varnon towards the end of the novel. 

On p. 171, there is “King under the mountain”, which is a direct reference to The Hobbit. Similarly, the dwarves living under the mountain is broader reference. The company, named “the Hunters of Reloria”, is reminiscent of Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring.

The emotions Fendi feels for Sienna are also reflected in those between their fairies, Fendi-La and Sienna-Li. Still, as readers we don't know much about fairy relationships but they are obviously easier than human-halfling ones.

We are told that the elves are "aloof", which is clearly seen in the princess and her bad temper. However, she is obnoxious! Her haughtiness shifts to wailing and the typical representation of a woman crying. For some reason, I, as a reader, felt that her emotions are fake, considering how haughty she had been a few seconds earlier.

There is a contrast in the characters of the two boys and a starker contrast between the two women: Sienna and Shari-Rose. Sienna is confident and deals with loss much better than the princess who is six years her senior.

In a confrontation between the independent and indignant Sienna and the proud princess, the reader can't help but be sympathetic towards Sienna and have the urge to smack the princess even if she is the most important character to the events of this story.

It is said at the beginning of the novel that elves are haughty. We see it in the princess and again in Daeron, her guardian, whose lengthy speech on p. 155 is too long and annoying. In it, he defends the obnoxious nature of his charge, whom he has been guarding since birth but has not tried to help or fix. The reader hopes the ordeal the princess undergoes will teach her a thing or two about humility and good manners. 

“[Randir] decided he would never understand that irksome elf. “When she’s not being an absolute troll!”

Several times in the novel, I got the feeling that the characters talk too much. An example is on p. 266, when Sir Varnon praises Fendi’s negotiation skills, and on p. 267, when Fendi talks to a half-asleep Sienna. Sir Varnon is, often, too formal at times, especially when talking with the younger characters like Fendi.

There are, of course, some memorable quotes and images in Elven Jewel. Asher tells Shari Rose: “To be kidnapped once may be unlucky Princess, but twice is exceedingly careless.”

Even though Shari-Rose is supposedly the centre of the story, we don't see her much, which is a good thing considering her temperamental character. Still, it is interesting that there is no main or single protagonist in the story. We have several heroes with different abilities and ideas. This gives a great depth to Beaumont’s Elven Jewel. There is no single protagonist; there are several heroes and the reader is free to choose their favourite.

My overall rating for Elven Jewel is 3 stars and I look forward to embarking on the rest of the journey with the Hunters of Reloria in Hunters’ Quest.

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