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MY EXPERIENCE ON THE DARK SIDE!
The Dark Moon - Guardian Cycle
Member Name: dawnymarie
The Dark Moon - Guardian Cycle
Date: 19/06/11, updated on 28/06/11 (133 review reads)
Advantages: A WELL CRAFTED READ!
Disadvantages: NONE FOR ME!
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.
Summary: AN EXPERIENCE ON THE DARK SIDE THAT HAS TICKLED MY FANCY!