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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel (Reviewed by: Cindy Hannikman)

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Fantasy novels sometimes follow a trend of having a specific character find out some long lost secret which sends them on a quest to achieve a certain goal. It takes a talented author to be able to take this guideline and be able to turn it into an interesting and exciting read for veterans of fantasy novels. Joni Sensel's Farwalker's Quest does just that.

A curious 12 year old girl,
Ariel finds a mysterious artifact. The artifact, known as the Telling Dart, is one of legends. It's said that it must travel hundreds of miles to get to the specified recipient of it. Only the person that is supposed to get the message can retrieve the message that is enclosed inside. However, Telling Darts haven't been used for hundreds of years, so who could have sent this message and why is the message meant for Ariel?

Every year in the village there is a
Namingday Fest, in which children that are 13 that year choose what profession they will pursue. The opportunities range from being able to talk to trees, to healing the sick. A test is administered and after successfully completing the test the children go off to learn their craft. This year, Ariel is up for the test, only when two mysterious people visit the village during the test, events unfold that lead to the change of Ariel and the rest of the village.

Farwalker's Quest leads readers on a great adventure that has many twists and outcomes from kidnapping to befriending a ghost who can help on the journey. As Ariel, and her friends try to retrace the path that the Telling Dart took in order to find out who could have sent such a message, readers grow with the characters and unravel a mystery that

As a YA novel,
Farwalker's Quest is enjoyable every minute taking readers on a great adventure. There are so many aspects of this novel that bring the whole storyline together.

Joni Sensel has a real talent at making the characters so believable. Many YA novels tend to make characters very one sided and predictable. That never happened in this story. Characters act and talk like the age that they are supposed to. Teenagers while believing that they can do almost anything, make mistakes and decisions that are not always wise. Readers grow up with Ariel as she matures throughout the novel making the readers feel very close to her. Other characters throughout the novel show many different sides to them.

Not only are the actions of the characters believable but the conversations are also realistic. This goes alone with the maturity of the characters, but a child is not going on and on about topics that are way beyond the age that they are. There is also a little humor in some of the conversations that make for a great read.

The second major strength and what makes
Farwalker's Quest so great is the flow of the book. While it is an adventure quest novel, there is are mysterious elements throughout the book such as who sent the Telling Dart, and who could these two mysterious people be that have arrived in a town that gets very little visitors. Sensel does an excellent job of knowing just when to reveal a part of the story, so as to make it move right along. There is never a time that the story drags on or starts to lag. On the other hand, there aren't so many twists being thrown at the readers that they get confused or don't know what is going on in the story.

Farwalker's Quest isn't a stand alone novel, while questions are answered about some of the Telling Darts origins there are a lot of aspects left up in the air, leading into the second book. For example the major "bad" guy of the story makes a brief appearance at the end but a feeling of unfinished business is left to the story. While this isn't a drawback to the book it is something to keep in mind.

In the end, I
absolutely loved Farwalker's Quest. It was a nice change of pace from having overly complex magic or a huge alternate world. It was a great fantasy/adventure story that moved along at a very smooth pace. This book was a breeze to read, and enjoyable every minute. The sense of mystery for me made sure that I kept reading. Joni Sensel did a wonderful job turning the typical quest story into something unique and captivating, I anxiously await the second book.


SparklingBlue said...

The NamingDay Fest reminds me of the Ceremony of Twelve in "The Giver"...

Cindy said...

Now that you mention it I see the similarities. Probably because I've never read "The Giver" all the way through.


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