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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"The Stolen Moon of Londor" Book One of the White Shadow Saga by A. P. Stephens (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit A.P Stephens official website Here
Listen to a part of The Stolen Moon of Londor Here
Order The Stolen Moon of Londor Here

Introduction: When I got the review request for The Stolen Moon of Londor I have to admit that my slight obsession for books that deal with elves, wizards and dwarves kicked in. Always up for helping out a small press published author I was excited to see what happened.

Summary: For the past couple of years the races of humans, dwarves, and elves have lived in peace in the land of Londor. Until one fateful night when one of Londor's moons, like a lot of fantasy worlds Londor has two lunar moons, disappears. The disappearance of one of the moons is very detrimental to the citizens of Londor, as a lot of their magic and well being are directly linked to nature and the moons. Without the moon magic starts to fail and illness spreads. Another aspect of the missing moons is that the time of peace seems to be breaking as every other nation seems to think their neighbor had a hand in the disappearance.

A small band of mercenaries has been hired by one of the kings to find out who has stolen this moon and to essentially place it back where it belongs. This group includes a human, Seth, and his side kick dwarf, Lorn, a mysterious half masked man, Malander, and oddly dressed elf who is known for his sword fighting skills and goes by Gildan. Before the four can set out properly from the city, they are ambushed by 3 northern elves who demand to be a part of the groups search for the moon.

Now the group of 7 head out in search, where they eventually meet up with the once believed dead wizard, Randor. Randor helps in directing the search group into the right direction and has a lot of resources that can help in finding out what happened to cause the moon to disappear and who might be responsible.

The path to searching for the answers is filled with many obstacles from werewolves, fighting elves, and a band of mysterious evil monks. All of which stand in the way of what could save Londor from a possible tragic ending.

Overview: The Stolen Moon of Londor is the basic fantasy quest novel. Readers are presented with a group of mish-mashed characters who have nothing in common but alas must band together to solve a particular problem that no one else in the world could solve. In order to solve this problem the characters must travel all over the land to find answers and fight their way to the ultimate end.

While the complete package of the novel may sound a little unoriginal. The Stolen Moon of Londor, has a small element that drew me in as a reader and kept me reading. As with all novels there are a few problems that might prevent other readers from enjoying this novel.

One of the main problems that I encountered was with the characters. Although one would think that with 9 characters there would be one particular character that a reader could bond with. Unfortunately for myself that wasn't the case. Stephens takes the impossible task of trying to build up all 9 characters in such a short span of time. At times it felt that there were so many characters that were trying to be thrown at the readers that it got a little overwhelming. Every single one of the characters had a mysterious past that wasn't revealed right away, and occasionally there were side stories or events that appeared irrelevant to the story but were slipped in to build a characters background.

Taking 9 main characters, with 9 separate backgrounds and trying to develop their flaws and strengths proved to be an impossible feat. Along with the main characters, there is also the story line being built, and the occasional bad guy, such as the main leader of the werewolf clan, and the Oracle, that also have backgrounds and history that needed to be presented. With so much going on with the characters one would think that there be a lot going on. Sadly, it appears that a lot of characters got overlooked or not developed properly due to the fact that there are so many in this book. Occasionally a character that felt like he could use more would act very one sided or predictable.

I feel as though the characters in The Stolen Moon of Londor are going to be one of those ones that readers have to grow to love (or hate as with the bad guys). Not everything can be developed as a character and readers need to grow with them. I'm hoping that this is the case for this book, because near the end some characters were really catching my eye.

The second weakness would be that of the history of Londor. A possible explanation of the past of Londor maybe in an appendix of sorts would have been helpful. Stephens brings details into the novel and then expands on them a few chapters later, making for a slightly confusing read. While not so confusing that I was completely lost, I did get the occasional feeling that I missed something about a past war or a detail along the way. This may be a complete oversight on my part.

Taking the character issue out, there are many strengths to A.P. Stephens writing that does sets this novel apart from the others that I have read. First was the plot line, a stolen moon. This idea really was unique, while more fantasy quest novels have a stolen relic of some sorts, this novel had the idea that a magical power went and stole a moon right out of the sky. While there isn't much explanation in this novel, as it's the first of a trilogy, readers do get a slight glimpse into who is responsible and why they would want to take this moon. I'd really like to see this part of the novel taken and expanded upon in the future, as it is one of the appeals of the novel.

Another strength of Stephens novel is that of his fighting/battle like scenes. While many authors tend to go overboard with descriptions of the fighting, Stephens takes a step back and describes all fighting very thoroughly. There aren't too many details but there are enough to make the reader envision what is going on and see the fight happen right in front of their eyes.

There are fantasy series that start out slow and in the end turn out great. On the other hand there are fantasy series that start out with a bang and fizzle out over time. I see The White Shadow Saga as the first type of series. There is so much potential for not only characters, but story wise. Stephens knows how to pack a punch in his novel while keeping the story to a manageable page length, something not everyone strives for now a days. I'd like to see where he may take the characters in future novels, and obviously something drew me into the writing as I really want to see what type of magic can steal a moon like that and what type of person would do such a thing!


Jess (The Cozy Reader) said...

Sounds like a very unique, very selective love kind of book.

I love the cover! :)

Cindy said...

I love the cover too. Every time I'd set it down in the house it always caught my attention again.

I want to see the "punk" elf with green hair, earrings in his ears and such. I hope he's on the next cover!

richardwebster85 said...

I greatly enjoyed narrating this book for A.P. Stephens. He's a good friend, and talented writer. I think it's a smashing piece of work for a first-time author.

If you want to take a look at Gildan, or anything Londor related, go here.

Cindy said...

I should also point out I LOVED the audio version it's really what kicked it off. The voice that was narrating just really got me in the mood to read the book.

I don't think I did well jumping from audio to book though, which is my own problem :P

richardwebster85 said...

I'm glad you liked my reading :P

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