"riveting"- "multi-layered" - "breathtaking" - "action-packed" - "pulls you in" - "innovative"

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Short Reviews:

NYT Fantasy Books Summary Review:

Get ready for a riveting journey through mystical lands filled with Knights, dragons, sweeping battles, treachery, otherworldly creatures and magic. This timeless and epic tale pulls you in and wrenches you though a roller coaster of emotions as friendship, courage, life and hope clash with betrayal, wrath, death and despair. We are lucky this long lost tale was discovered in our lifetime! (http://nytfantasybooks.webnode.com)

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LaDawn Edwards, online reviewer

The Tenth Century fantasy world of Far Forest Scrolls embraces its readers with a multi-layered story filled with religious and inter-species conflict, legendary valor and a date with destiny. In the midst of war and at great personal risk, Animal Talker Bellae and her siblings journey throughout Verngaurd in a breathtaking series of adventures. Following the directives in the ancient Prophecy Scrolls, the young squires and their friends attempt to prevent the evil Veneficus and the Dark Warriors from using the Macht Crystals to destroy everything they care about.

Students of ancient history should keep an eye out for historical references, ranging from ancient Chinese siege engines, Greek astronomy experiments and salty Latin inscriptions on tombstones, as this magical adventure unfolds. Through the multi – gender and multi – species friendships, battles with armies, eagles and dragons, as well as political intrigue and treachery, readers may find themselves echoing the Knights' salute: “Wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice,” as they go about their lives. LaDawn Edwards, online reviewer

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Full Review:

NYT Fantasy Books Full Review!

Why you should read this trilogy:

This timeless story is truly an epic! The trilogy is action-packed with complex, yet relatable, characters traveling through magical lands filled with extraordinary creatures.

At NYT Fantasy Books we usually complain that books march down a foreseeable course, with “good” and “evil” characters clearly separated into two distinct groups. Readers often know who is going to “win” and who will “lose.”

This ancient trilogy certainly bucks the trend of predictability. As we discover more about the various cultures contained in the books the lines of good and evil blur. No character, even major ones, are immune from death. This adds a volatile edge to the trilogy as you never know who will make it out alive when there is a dangerous scene.

What you (especially parents) need to know:

These books are appropriate for an older audience (teens and up) due to battle violence and complex themes.

Overall Key Points About the Trilogy:

The mysterious author, A4, writes deliberately with lots of underlying messages and themes. There are also amazing amounts of history and etymology hidden within the writing and characters. (http://hiddenfarforestscrolls.blogspot.com)

Because of the breadth of the trilogy we divided each book review into three sections (Key Points, Highlights and Extended Review). Each component has increasing detail.

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Review of Book One: Dragon Battle

Key Points Book One:

*We get to meet the main characters, and get an overview of the citizens of Verngaurd.

*We experience the Tournament of Flags.

*There is a whisper introducing the idea of the Prophecy and the Chosen One.

Highlights Book One: Book One introduces us to the Knights and squires and allows us a glimpse of their lives while investing us in the characters and their distinct personalities. Sprinkled generously throughout the first book are moments foreshadowing the death and destruction about to sweep across the land. A fantastic medieval “Olympics,” the Tournament of Flags, is rousing and entertaining. The deep conflicts dividing the various nations of Verngaurd are revealed.

Extended Review Book One: The trilogy opens with the mysterious death of the parents of three young siblings. The recently orphaned children will go on to become the main characters of the story: Bellae and her twin siblings: Gimelli and Jumeaux (you will have to wait until the very end of Book Three to discover what really happened to their parents and why)!

The three children go on to become squires to a vanishing breed of warriors, the Independent Knights. As the story begins the Knights have lost an enormous amount of power and prestige at the hands of their enemies, the Dark Warriors, and their former allies, the Proliate. The world seems on the edge of a steep, self-destructive, cliff. Only an ancient Prophecy seems to offer any hope for the future.

Book One serves as an introduction to the diverse inhabitants of Verngaurd, with a special focus on the Knights, the squires, and their way of life. We learn of Bellae’s unique gift, communicating with animals, and see how it has alienated her from many of the other squires. She is best friends with fellow outcast, Lontas. He is a squire who loves to read more than breathe. The opposite personalities of Bellae’s twin siblings are also revealed. Jumeaux makes up for his physical weakness and insecurity by spreading out anger and sarcasm like dysfunctional peacock feathers. Gimelli is kind and full of life spreading her sunny disposition.

Just when we start to get comfortable with their lives behind the strong walls of the Knight’s main home, Castle Liberum, the three siblings head out with a small band of Knights and other squires to the Tournament of Flags. Along the way the true horrors happening in the countryside are recognized. However, the tournament itself is full of pageantry and awesome martial competitions.

Throughout the book we learn of the evil forces stirring within the world of Verngaurd. Someone, or something, is tearing apart the countries of Verngaurd from within by getting them to bicker and fight amongst themselves (again, you have to wait until the end to find out what is really going on).

One of the main characters loses their life during the Tournament. This tragedy seems to bring Verngaurd together. However, catastrophe strikes, and Book One ends with a cliffhanger.

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Review of Book Two: Battle of Trepas

Key Points Book Two:

*The Chosen One and the path to fulfill the ancient Prophecy are revealed.

*Massive battles abound as Verngaurd falls into a self-destructive Civil War.

Highlights Book Two: Lots of ferocious battles fill the pages of Book Two as Verngaurd starts to implode. The leaders let themselves get caught up in hatred and revenge, which blinds them to the manipulation shaping their actions. That said, we really get to know the various countries of Verngaurd and you find yourself liking them all. There is even more character development and we finally have our band of heroes (the League of Truth). These young champions set out on their quest to save the world by finding the source of all magic, the Macht or Power Crystals.

Extended Review Book Two: Book Two opens with an unveiling of what happened at the end of Book One, a massacre of innocents. The Elves of Creber and Northern Dwarves claim they were framed for the slaughter by the evil White Wizard from across the Dark Sea. However, the other inhabitants of Verngaurd do not believe their story and we see the makings of a civil war heating up.

One of the most endearing parts of the trilogy is being immersed in the world of the Elves of Creber and their beloved forest. However, the calm is short lived. The squires are separated from the Knights and scattered around Verngaurd while absolutely brutal and bloodstained battles rage across the land. On one side are the Allies led by the Knights, Elves of Creber and Northern Dwarves with their cadre of dragons. The Confederacy is led by the devout Proliate.

Outnumbered around two to one, Friar Pallium, the leader of the Knights and Allies, resorts to deception in order to even out the odds. The result is a series of savage clashes. If you are a fan of blood and guts, you will really enjoy Book Two. There are some innovative battle scenes, but the reader will be left questioning the value and cost of the Knight’s underhanded techniques. I think the author plays both sides of the argument well (the argument of whether it was acceptable for the Knights to resort to deception or not). Friar even gives a speech about his motivation and reasoning for using the strategies he chose.

While the battles are a focal point, there is plenty of excitement and humor on the squire front. As a fan of philosophy, I enjoyed the scene where Bellae met up with the blue Kirvella dragons. The squires walk in to find these blue dragons embroiled in a passionate discussion of Plato and some of his work.

We also get to learn more about the Proliate and discover they are not so bad. There is a humorous scene with one of the squires and a princess from the northern country of Jaa.

Another highlight is meeting the Fairies and Sprites from the magical world of Cappadocia. We learn the identity of the Chosen One who will fulfill the Prophecy and rid the world of evil. The group of companions who will assist the Chosen One is defined. They are collectively known as the League of Truth and they finally uncover their mission, to collect five pairs of magic Power Crystals, the Macht Crystals, and save the world. The quest begins just as Book Two comes to a close.

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Review of Book Three: The Quest

Key Points Book Three:

*The League of Truth’s quest to solve the riddles guarding the source of magic (the Macht or Power Crystals) dominates this book.

*Battles continue up until the very end when we finally discover what the Prophecy was talking about.

Highlights Book Three: Book Three is mainly about the quest for the five pairs of Power Crystals. To acquire each set of crystals the League of Truth must solve riddles, overcome traps, and face strange Guardians. Verngaurd is on the verge of complete implosion as their civil war has shredded their armies, and hence their ability to fight off the evil White Wizard and his Dark Warriors. All the unanswered threads that have been itching your brain throughout the books are finally tied up as the mysteries are revealed.

Extended Review Book Three: Book Three has a brisk pace with lots of fresh scenery as the League of Truth journeys to many diverse lands on their quest to solve the Prophecy.

From their very first adventure the Chosen One and the League of Truth find themselves in big trouble as they struggle to find the source of magic, the Power Crystals (or Macht Crystals). To acquire each pair of crystals they must solve a series of riddles, overcome obstacles, and face fascinating creatures known as the Guardians.

The poems and rhymes protecting the Power Crystals are well written and riveting. Each one has a specific theme and two opposing forces. The “Seeing” Crystals have challenges involving perception and deception. The others include: the Strength Crystals (power and weakness), the Time Crystals (life and death), Sacrifice Crystals (love and hate), and the Wisdom Crystals (knowledge and ignorance).

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The odyssey for the crystals is made that much more difficult as all of Verngaurd is embroiled in a massive and catastrophic series of battles. Major familiar places and characters will fall. Our first glimpse of Ifrean and a deeper understanding of the motivation of the Dark Warriors is outlined. I think one of the powerful elements of this trilogy is how the author makes a point to have the reader get to know the different countries, its people and culture, and the underlying motivation for their actions. Once you find out more about each country and its back-story, it becomes harder to apply generic labels like “good guys” or “bad guys.”

The ending is fraught with surprise as those responsible for manipulating both Verngaurd and Ifrean are revealed. The final “showdown” is full of bombshells as we discover the fate of the Power Crystals and the world.

liha

Thank you to Hunter Ross for letting us review this ancient trilogy. We would also humbly like to thank Professor RC Novotny, Professor Henrik Evjen and linguist Isaiah James for their translation of the text, their invaluable linguistic, historic and worldly knowledge. NYT Fantasy Books (http://nytfantasybooks.webnode.com)