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Friday, August 21, 2009

"Water Keep: Far World Book 1" by J. Scott Savage (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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Order Water Keep From Amazon Here

Introduction: Last year when I saw the cover for Water Keep I was impressed. It took a few months for me to get around to finally picking up and reading the book but I wasn't disappointed. Water Keep was a fast paced, creative, YA read, and had I read it in 2008 really would have been one of the top 2008 books for me.

Overview: As an outcast in the small orphanage that he lives at, 13 year old Marcus oftenOccasionally Marcus actually believes that mysterious events happen to him, ones that can only be described as magic.

Kyja is a 13 year old girl who actually lives in the magical world of Far World, which happens to be the world that Marcus dreams about. Although a lot of people in Far World can do magic, Kyja is one of the few who hasn't shown any signs of being able to perform magic.

One day she accidentally pulls Marcus from the real world into Far World. Where Marcus learns about his true heritage and a problem that is plaguing Far World that only he can help solve. A drift between the two worlds (Earth and Far World) must be opened. To do this Marcus and Kyja need the help of the elementals (water, land, fire, and air).

Water Keep, focuses on Marcus and Kyja's quest to find the water elementals and convince them of the need to help out. While on the journey the two children will learn more about where they came from and possibly the answer to a few questions that they have had for many years.

Water Keep, is the first in a 5 book series and stands at 380+ pages. It's a fantasy quest YA/middle reader book.

Analysis: Water Keep is one of those books that amazed me with the creativity that it held inside. While the idea of having an orphaned child who is the key to destroying an evil, isn't one that is unique to fantasy, Savage takes a creative twist to this idea that keeps readers wanting to see what happens next.

When it comes down to it, there is a very unique twist on the original fantasy plot line. There are creatures that are very creative. There aren't your typical unicorns, dragons and so forth. Instead Savage comes up with some pretty interesting creatures that are clearly from his own imagination.

Another twist on the original plot line is that of Far World and Earth being mirror images to each other. A balance must be maintained between the two worlds in order for there to be peace in both areas. This is an idea I'm sure has been used in other books, but to use it in a YA book is fairly new.

Savage does a great job of explaining not only the world but the magic behind all that is happening. There are explanations to what is going on. They are detailed enough so that no matter what the age of the reader is they will understand what is going on. However if you are an older more veteran reader you don't get the feeling as though you are being talked down to.

The main characters within the book, Marcus and Kyja are another edition to what makes this book so special. They aren't your typical fantasy children. In other words they aren't super perfect and know what to do all the time, or super dorky and find out that they are part of some super plot to save the world. Marcus and Kyja are average children who are like a lot of 13 year olds and don't normally fit in with others their own age. These two are life like and believable in that they make mistakes along their journey and sometimes have consequences to decisions that they have had to make.

Overall the dialogue between the characters isn't cheesy or forced. However the conversations

As new authors go, Savage has a few areas that could be improved. Sometimes the descriptions of Far World got a little long winded, and the journey to Water Keep did seem to take a tiny bit longer then I felt was necessary. However these things shouldn't hold readers back from trying out the book as the idea of it creative and an enjoyable read.

In the end, it'll be great to see where Savage decides to take the series of Far World and what'll happen in the next 4 books. As it appears the next few books will deal with the finding of the other elementals and convincing them to help out, I'm looking forward to see what other curve balls Savage decides to throw at readers and how he'll keep the story fresh. He's definitely an author to watch grow with his series and see where he takes things. This is definitely a book for all ages.
dreams of a far away land where he can belong. Sometimes when things get really rough he can close his eyes an envision this world and escape from the constant bullying that he endures daily from the other boys. between the characters aren't really ones that stuck with me, instead it was more the story line, world created and overall theme of the book that stuck with me.


Jam said...

Awesome Review. I feel my hands itching to read it already. There's been a trend of parallel worlds coming out right now. Just looking at the review kinda reminded me of your review of The City and the City by China Mieville. Another parallel world series would be the Fever series by Karen Moning.

J Scott Savage said...

Thanks for the great review. I just dropped my publisher an e-mail again to make sure they get you a copy of Land Keep, coming out the end of September.

When Water Keep first came out, a lot of people wondered if the other books would all follow similar lines as book one, just with different elementals.

Hopefully they won't be asking that after reading Land Keep. Keep up the great work. I love this site, although it makes my "to read" list way too long.

Kirk L. Shaw said...

J. Scott is a great writer and is very diverse. I've been his editor on a couple of books in the past five years, and he's fantastic to work with.

Thanks for the great review.

Heather B. Moore said...

My kids loved the first FarWorld book and are eagerly anticipating the next in the series.

Nice Review.

Cindy said...

Thank you for the nice comments. I've been waiting for a review to closer to the publication of the second book kinda as a kick start to the second book but couldn't hold it in anymore.

J Scott Savage is very talented, it's a talented author that can make a YA/middle age book appeal to adults and have twists that might surprise those that read fantasy/sci-fi a lot :).

Jam: In my experience with books what's becomes popular everyone seems to jump on the band wagon and try to find similar books so they can have that hit too.

J. Scott Savage: Thank you for stopping by! You beat me to emailing you about the review :). I'm very anxious to see where you take this series!

Kirk: Thanks! He is a very diverse writer. He showed that by taking such a unique look during this series.

Heather: Thank you for the comment! I'm looking forward to the next book too :)

bks2plz said...


My new book has just been released and I would like to invite you to read my new fantasy novel, "Gateway to DreamWorld." I would love to get your review of the book.

Brenda Estacio

RedEyedGhost said...

Good review, but

"Last year when I saw the cover for Water Keep I was impressed."

Really? The "Travelocity Roaming Gnome" kind of ruins it for me.

Cindy said...

Maybe impressed wasn't a good word but I was curious as to what the book held.

I had no idea what you were talking about with the Gnome but on second look I just burst out laughing. Replace the grown with a red cap and I kinda see where you get that!

RedEyedGhost said...

It's definitely an interesting cover, but my eye is just continually drawn to that guy.

Does the crown have more of a golden color to it on the actual book? Because it's got just enough tinge of orange on the internet that I can't help but think of the roaming gnome.

Cindy said...

The hat thing is more gold, I don't have the book in front of me, but the print on the internet doesn't look like the color that the cover is either. The Words were more goldish too.

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