by Irina Lopatina
Publication: July 30, 2012
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Light Messages Publishing
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
A young hero who must protect the land of his people from evil monsters trying to take over.
In the kingdom of Areya, humans, animals, and the magical creatures that inhabit the Eternal Forest have long coexisted peacefully, but now something is horribly wrong. A terrifying stream of monstrous creatures has begun to emerge from the secret depths of the earth, terrorizing all of Areya’s native inhabitants. From the tiny, wise drevalyankas to the bellicose cave-dwelling gnomes to the devious kikimoras who gather roots and herbs in the marsh, everyone is in danger.
With the aid of Urart, the magical sword that has been passed down from the time of the ancient northern ancestors, Grand Duke Vlady can offer temporary protection to his people. But Prince Vraigo, Vlady’s nephew, who is endowed with magical power himself, understands that the source of the evil monsters must be found if there’s any hope of survival. Along with a motley crew of his forest-dwelling friends, Vraigo sets off on a perilous quest in search of the koschei, the powerful, corrupt Archmagus whose mission is the destruction not just of Areya, but of the entire world.
As if this weren’t bad enough, Urart disappears from the duke’s stronghold. Without it, Areya is doomed, and only Vraigo, the White Raven, can possibly get the sword back. This journey requires Vraigo to use all of his keen wits and magical abilities, as well as to ally himself to dangerous creatures like yagas and werewolves, natural enemies of man, and precipitates the young prince into the most bewildering, complex challenge he has faced yet: life in the twenty-first century.
The story is told in a fairy-tale like manner with the hero being aided by magical creatures in his quest to find a lost item while fighting against evil. The plot is generic, that of your typical fantasy novel or at least what comes first to mind, and not overly impressive. It's pretty easy to predict what is going to happen. In addition, I wasn't attached to any of the characters in particular. It didn't take away too much from the story, though it felt more as though I was watching what happened rather than experiencing it myself.
What really makes this novel is the unique setting with its Russian elements. Vraigo's world is rich with magic and fantastical creatures. I enjoyed learning more about them as he encounters them along his quest. It was especially interesting when Vraigo ended up in the twenty-first century and learns that magic has all but disappeared. We've seen many ordinary humans end up in fantastical situations, so it was bizarre and fascinating to look at our world through Vriago's eyes.
Also check out Austin's interview with Irina Lopatina.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.