Author: Suzanne Rogerson | Self-published
The Assembly controls Kalaya. Originally set up to govern, they now persecute those with magic and exile them to the Turrak Mountains.
Tei, a tailor’s daughter, has always hidden her magic. When her father’s old friend visits and warns them to flee to the mountains she must leave her old life behind.
On the journey, an attack leaves her father mortally wounded. He entrusts her into the care of two exiles, Rike and Garrick, and on his deathbed makes a shocking confession.
Struggling with self-doubt, Tei joins the exiles in the search for their lost Sentinel. But mysterious Masked Riders want the Sentinel too, and time, as well as hope, is running out.
How can Tei help the Kalayan people reunite and save the magic when their ignorance threatens to destroy them all?
Follow Tei’s journey through the magical land of Kalaya and the astral plane.
I’ve just started getting my first ARCs, which is an exciting moment in any new reviewer’s life. It goes without saying that we all love free books. And free books from the publisher or author, before everyone else gets to read them? Bookworm catnip! However, before I excepted any, I decided I need to have some rules.
They go as follows:
(1) I will only accept ARCs for books I actually want to read.
I don’t want to spend all my time slogging through dire Mills & Boon romances, just because they’re free. That sounds awful.
(2) If I accept an ARC, I will finish it and I will review it. Even if I didn’t like it.
If someone has been kind enough to give me a free book, it’s because they want me to do something with it. It wouldn’t be “right” to get free books if I don’t review them
(3) I’m going to be honest.
Probably ruthlessly so. Because, firstly, that’s sadly my nature. And secondly, I think reviews should be trustworthy. If you just say what the author or publisher wants to hear, maybe you’ll get more free stuff, but how can anyone trust what you say?
With that in mind, I accepted a copy of The Lost Sentinel with some trepidation.
I connected with the author through her blog; which I like a lot. So, when she said there were some ARC copies going for the second in her Silent Sea Chronicles series (The Sentinel’s Reign), I volunteered to review it. And Suzanne very kindly gave me The Lost Sentinel, the first in the series, as well so I could get acquainted.
I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. What if I hated it? I mean, my rule is, I’ll review it if I accept the ARC. And I don’t feel good about lying if it’s awful. But I also really don’t want to have to tell someone that they stink, after they’ve put all that effort into a writing a book. I mean, it’s one thing if it’s Raymond E. Feist; he’s such a big shot, what does he care if one tiny little person with a 50-follower blog hates his latest novel? I doubt he even read my review. But a person whose blog I’ve read, liked, commented on, who’s personally given me copies of not one, but two, of her books? I don’t know if I have that kind of brutal honesty in me…
Luckily, I loved it! (Phew)
The Lost Sentinel is classic fantasy, in the best sense. There’s something comforting about wandering into a world where you know what to expect: magic, quests, battles, a coming of age for the main character, and strange worlds. And yet, it’s one of the more original examples of the genre I’ve read recently. It had echoes of the classics (Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials, Ann McCaffrey, Alwyn Hamilton, and the Wall of Night series), but any homage was made with a light touch. If you like YA fantasy, or classic fantasy, you’ll like this. You might be reminded in some way of the giants of the genre. It feels familiar, and, yet, really isn’t “like” anything else you’ve read per se.
The plot is split into three strands, focused around three protagonists: Tei, who is really the central character; Brogan, who acts as the foil for the villain; and Captain Farrell, who plays a rather more ambiguous part, and contributes to the sense of mystery and plot development for the rest of the series. I’m not always a fan of multiple perspectives, as I think it can lead to feeling disconnected from the characters. However, in this case it worked because every character was likeable in their own right, dynamic, well-rounded, and clearly linked. They all had lives and motivations beyond the story, and this gave them their “real person-feel”. And the “baddy” is scary. Properly scary. He’s referred to as the “soul eater”, which is more than a little baroque. I do like a strong bad guy…
However, what really interested me was the way the three main actors were drawn in by the world itself. As if the world itself was the protagonist, and the characters revolved around it. It was almost like the island was a character in itself, or even the narrator. A living world. The personification of a world. I thought that was an interesting idea, and one which gave the plot impetus and tension because you became so attached to the place as a person. Clever.
You’re not going to see a lot of reviews for self-published books on this blog. I’m wary, having been burned one too many times by cheap books on Amazon. In my experience, self-published, in practise, often means riddled with spelling mistakes and in need of a good editor. Not in this case. The language is straightforward, yet congruent with the tone of the worldbuilding. The descriptive prose was at times beautiful, evocative, and haunting. The plot was interesting, well thought out, and tightly wound, with some modern and thought-provoking themes. And there are very few typos, which makes me happy.
The beginning of The Lost Sentinel is a little slow, but the writing carries it, and gradually the author gets everything moving along and the pace picks up. I could almost have wished it to be a little slower in parts, later on, to further develop the world and increase the dramatic tension. That being said, the book was very tightly focused, nothing was extraneous, and this tight pace and focus had a way of latching the reader in to the story. It was un-put-down-able.
I highly recommend The Lost Sentinel for fans of the classic and YA fantasy genres. You won’t be disappointed.
The next book in the series, The Sentinel’s Reign, will be released on 29th June 2018. And I’m very happy to say, I already have a copy! So, that review is on it’s way. I can’t wait to read it!