* Prices may differ from that shown
This book was a complete change from the books that I have been reading recently because it was a pure fantasy novel with unique and fascinating locale. I managed to track down a copy on eBay for a bargain price brand new (the RRP being £7.99). The illustration of the book and blurb on the back gained my attention and I looked forward to entering the land of The Dark Moon!
Terrel was the unwelcome second twin boy, born with unsightly deformities, to the Empress Adina. Immediately hidden away from public knowledge and banished to an asylum where he became institutionalised and prevented from ever seeing beyond the establishment walls. The night that he and his twin brother, Jax were born was a special occasion which predicted the arrival of a '''Guardian''' who would one day play an important part in saving the Floating Island on which the Empire is built. Terrel would endure a life that was filled with pain and suffering whilst his brother was nurtured and primed for the role of '''Guardian''' when the time came. There is an epic journey that Terrel must undertake - this proves to be dangerous and the cause of yet more suffering for Terrel, he does have the support of an exceptional friend in Alyssa who became a 'special' friend whilst at the asylum and like Terrel has unusual talents. There are many obstacles to overcome and much learning to be done before Terrel and Jax meet their challenge and both develop their character, ethics and morals in entirely different ways - one much more privileged than the other. But who is the '''Guardian'''? there can only be one and what will he be expected to do to save the Floating Island?
THE DARK MOON EXPERIENCE
Initially it was very easy for me to like and sympathise with Terrel because of the poignant way that the prose describes how he was rejected by his mother - as she looked at him in horror because of his deformed body. I was immediately drawn into the story as it made me feel so sorry for the newborn boy who was carted off to a distant mental asylum where he would spend his childhood years - actually it was expected that he would not survive! Following a concise prologue the book moves forward in time to the teenage years of Terrel and I very much enjoyed getting to know this young boy. I gained respect for his tenacity and very much liked his personality and his values. It was obvious that even though this young abandoned boy was living in the most appalling conditions and enduring a great deal of suffering, both physically and mentally - he had developed into a compassionate and kind person.
In the first part of the book (which has three parts in total) Terrel is fully accustomed to avoiding eye contact with anyone so that they are not repulsed or afraid of him, his eyes are different from any that they have seen. The author portrays succinctly a common human reaction to look at someone and judge them without trying to see past what is on the outside and discover what is actually on the inside - it was really quite thought provoking throughout and gave me insight into how it must feel to have to live life with people avoiding being in your company. Not everyone treats Terrel in this unkind way, he has a strong bond with a quirky young girl called Alyssa - she accepts Terrel for who he actually is and connects with all that is good within this young man. The way that the relationship between these two characters develops is beautifully done - understated yet obvious. Another character named Elam who is a younger boy develops a friendship and connection with Terrel and Alyssa and will have a part to play throughout the book in a different form.
The book continues with a journey in Part Two and initially I expected the expedition to focus on Terrel's adventure to reach the place that would determine the fate of the Floating Island. This was not the case, Terrel has a passage of learning in his inner world which is just as traumatic and challenging as his physical strains. I was delighted with this dimension of the story because the character of Terrel became more accessible to me, I had more of an insight into his morals/ethics and his character developed more depth at this time. I was also intrigued by the strange dreams that he had - they were like a puzzle of messages or experiences of past or maybe future - this fascinated me and held my interest as the prose progressed . I liked the inclusion of unusual allies/mentors that would help to guide Terrel on his way. The journey was never going to be straight forward and included the guidance of a code and some astronomical calculations - this I found extremely interesting and the description concerning this subject was wonderfully detailed. Especially absorbing was the way that the Empire and surrounding townships where completely ruled by the cycle of the moons - more than one! I could imagine in times gone by how hysteria could develop quickly dependent on the effects of the moon.
On occasions the story will shift back to Terrel's birth place and privileged home of his brother Jax. Jax does not really endear himself to anyone let alone the reader, he appears to be either apathetic or entirely consumed in his dreams, he knows that he has special qualities like Terrel. A part of me wondered if Jax would prove to have hidden gentler qualities - I waited with anticipation. There are a number of Seers who are introduced and I felt like I got a good idea of what their individual traits were - without needing to know too much more - I liked that as the story was gathering pace and I was able to follow the story clearly and enjoy what came next.
The final part of the book did not disappoint in any way - this story had been crafted meticulously and everything started to slot into place. The descriptive text built up a landscape and communities that I could easily imagine and this made the book all the more captivating for me. The tale up to now had flowed fluidly - now I felt my reading speed up as the excitement of the outcome neared. I found it difficult to put the book down. I had decided that there could be three possible outcomes, three feasible answers to the dilemma which the Guardian must face - and none of them were right!!! I like an author who keeps you guessing right up until the end and Julia Gray achieved it.
The conclusion to the task of the Guardian (whomever that may be Terrel or Jax? Or maybe both? I am not saying) was very satisfying. Both brothers can be seen for who they are, you get a real discernment of their nature. I resonated with Terrel's philosophy and I felt warmed by his actions, decisions and altruism.
AN ENDING BUT ALSO A BEGINNING
Of course this book is the first of The Guardian Cycle and like all good books it ends as the next book will begin. It has left me wanting more - I will be following Terrel and Jax and witnessing their challenges in the next book.
WHAT ABOUT THAT THEN?
A new experience for me reading this genre. Did I like it and would I read it again? Yes and yes. From the first couple of pages I was drawn into the fantasy world that is ruled by the moons - I was fascinated by the astronomy, code and prophecy of the Guardian. The style of writing was easy to read and flowed beautifully with immaculate and creative description of the locale - if I would have closed my eyes I could easily have imagined the places that are depicted here. The main character, Terrel, developed nicely as the book progressed and the qualities that oozed from this boy warmed my heart. I found that all the characters were developed adequately and closer supporting characters endeared themselves to me, Alyssa inparticular. I liked the themes that were incorporated within the prose which included courage, romance, hatred, compassion, suffering and pain. The sections of the book (three in total) fit the story well and I found the chapters a nice length and not too long. This book was thought provoking throughout and addressed issues sensitively - I found parts of the story quite emotive and spent some time philosophising about it after reading a chapter. The composition picks up a nice pace as it nears the end and I could not wait to find out what was going to happen. I was satisfied with the conclusion to this first part of the Guardian Cycle and I will definitely be reading book two to find out more.
BITS & BOBS
eBay various prices
Book 2 The Jasper Forest
Book 3 The Crystal Desert
Book 4 The Red Glacier
Book 5 Alyssa's Ring
THANKS FOR READING
This review will also be published on CIAO under my username.
First off I am a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction novels and when I was browsing the sections in the bookstore and my eyes lay upon these books, I knew I had to read them. The Guardian Cycle consists of five novels, each with their own various stories and plots but all of them containing the main characters. The author of these books is Julia Gray who had previously wrote two other novels, Isle of the Dead and Ice Mage, both of which I have not read.
The birth of an Emperor's son has been prophesied for centuries and this child would be the guardian to the floating islands of Vandanis who would save them from a catastrophe so great it would destroy everything and everyone. But what wasn't foreseen was the birth of twins on that fateful night. The first is Jax who is raised in the palace as prince and groomed to become the future leader. His twin is Terrel who is born handicapped. On seeing her deformed child the Empress is horrified and orders for Terrel to be sent away to live in a mental asylum where his life will be filled with pain and grief.
Terrel lives his life unknowing of who he really is and what family he belongs to. He appreciates the time that he spends with his two best friends Elam and Alyssa until one horrid day that will change Terrels life and the world forever.
Both twins have talents that are unknown at first but soon become quite apparent to all. When the ancient prophecy begins to come to pass it become clear that the identity of the guardian has to be known, but is it either one of the twins?
This is the first novel in the spellbinding series of the guardian cycle. It follows Terrel and his perilous journey into the unknown where he will face prejudice and hardships but at times joy and friendship.
I was absorbed into the world of Vandanis as soon as I read the first few eventful pages. This book has all the ingredients for a masterpiece with adventure, drama, romance, humour, mystery and just good fun. Her writing style is extremely descriptive and not that much dialogue is presented in the novel. This might tire out some people who can't stand to read pages and pages of description. You might enjoy it but it's entirely on what you prefer. However I find that by doing this she presents a world to us that is so vivid we could actually imagine it in our minds. Everything is so clear and detailed that nothing is missed out and the reader is not left annoyed or flummoxed.
In terms of the plot and story this book is very intriguing. Lots of questions arise in this book and it made me extremely eager to find out what is going to happen. I found the Dark Moon quite original although it really is a basic boy saves world story but I love how she blended a story of growing up and maturity into the plot. I liked the ending to this book but a friend of mine who has also read it told me she found it rather confusing. She also felt rather unfulfilled and was left annoyed by the ending. I have heard similar annoyances by other people so either they just dont like fantasy or the book really isnt as good as I think it is.
The characters in this book are fascinating and I found it exciting to learn all about them and the relationships between them all. During this novel all of the characters developed emotionally and I loved how each relationship changes.
Terrel is born very unfortunate and you instantly fall in love with his caring and healing nature. He is just a teenager when he ventures out into the big world and is met with hostility and hate. However his character just doesnt seem to have the same charm as the others and this can become quite tiresome as he is the main focus of the book. This is probably a big flaw in the novels and one of the reasons I didnt like this book as much as I could have.
Jax is completely opposite to Terrel in every single way and you either hate or love him. Me I liked the bad boy. He is selfish, cruel and slightly psychotic. The prince is given everything he could possibly want and his idea of fun is to annoy Terrel whenever he gets the opportunity.
Alyssa has the innocence of a child yet the maturity of an adult and I felt like I could be her and found myself identifying with her ideals and emotions. She is one of Terrels best friends at the asylum and provides him with emotional support.
These are the three main characters in all of the books however Terrel does encounter many friends and foes in each book that are all incredibly detailed and intricate characters. Elam is one of Terrels friends who gives him support in any way throughout the novel. Terrel also has friends who are ghosts and give him information on the prophecies that seem to rule Terrels life.
My Overall Opinion
Her description overload may become unbearable for some and the problem of Terrel as a main character is a massive flaw in these novels. I thought its ending was good but in others opinions it isnt so I guess that is all to do with your personal opinion.
Now I will briefly mention the entire series in order to get my point across. If you are one of those people that if you read one book in a series then you have to read the rest, I seriously do not recommend this for you. This book is fine on its own and provides a good read, however the entire series is another story. I found each book after this one becoming repetitive and boring. The endings in specific are pretty much the same for every book. The only other book in this series which I thought was as original and on par with Dark Moon is the last novel of the series. Heed my warning as I was only able to read these books by having about a years gap in between.
This book is a must buy for all who love a good science fiction and fantasy novel. If you like such authors such as Terry Goodkind, Terry Pratchett, Michelle West and Elizabeth Moon then I recommend this book to you.
Other novels by Julia Gray
Isle of the Dead
The Guardian Cycle includes:
The Jasper Forest
The Crystal Desert
The Red Glacier
You can buy it from any high street book retailer for around £6.99 or buy it amazon.co.uk for £5.59.
The publisher is Orbit and there are 536 pages
This review was also posted in other quarters.
The birth of the Emperor's son had been prophesied many years before. The child would be the Guardian; saviour of his people. What had not been foreseen was the fact that there would be two imperial children born that night. Second-born Terrell is banished and grows up unaware of his birthright.