Wednesday 13 January 2016

A Fragment Of Moonswood (Assalay Trilogy I) by Tracey Mathias

A fateful birthday gift… 
It was a piece of soft white stone. Veins glittered through it like caught moonlight. One face was as smooth as new fallen snow; the other was engraved with a pattern of flowing lines. Gaia traced her fingers along the carvings. After a long time, she looked up at Mai. 
‘What is it?’ 

Published by Canfield Dragon Press 2015 
254 pages in softback – available for Kindle too 
Cover Art by Tim Mathias 

Summary from author’s own website 
All anyone knows about the old amulet is that it’s a good luck charm that hasn’t worked. And luck is about to turn worse, plunging Gaia and her brother Tal into undreamed-of dangers and strange discoveries that might change their world for ever… 

I have to be honest – I had my doubts about doing this review. It’s hard to report on a friend’s work – and Serendipity Reviews doesn’t usually handle self-published work. You can imagine why on both accounts. 
BUT I’d said I’d give it a go. After all, the whole trilogy was translated and traditionally published in Germany. 
Quite rightly too. 
This a richly imagined fantasy with layers of meaning. It is ideal for experienced readers from around 11 upwards – family is at the heart of the book but the story inhabits a world touched by Gormenghast-like complexity and threat. The central brother-sister relationship is handled with great heart and a good deal of humour. 
There’s plenty of peril and action to keep you going through the intriguing landscapes – and the city of Freehaven is a marvellous stage set for all sorts of scrapes and near-misses. There’s some lovely lyrical writing at points - but nothing to slow the pace too much. Just moments to savour – and to catch your breath before there’s yet more jeopardy for Gaia & Tal.
Did I mention dragons? And trials and Prohibited Objects? All sorts of mysteries and secrets emerge about The Fellowship who run the country – and some hard choices have to be made by the children. The reader who has stuck with Gaia and Tal through their dramatic adventures will be itching to know how these decisions work out in the sequel: The Singing War. 
Recommended for those who like their fantasy to be both thoughtful and warm-hearted, enjoy a deep sense of history in their fictional worlds and are unafraid of the occasional polysyllabic word!

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