Bain, the bastard son of a lord and a healer, is acknowledged by his father and set up a path to make him the eventual inheritor of his father’s estate. Even though he has no desire to rule in his father’s place, he is determined not to let his father, his mother, or his people down. In the domain of Lord Danza, Bain meets Phaera, Danza’s feisty only child, who is more interested in pursuing her calling as a healer than immersing herself in the inanity of court life. When the two meet, sparks fly, but their mutual interest in healing brings them closer. Phaera’s father has promised her that he will never force her to marry, but when the ambitious and unscrupulous young Mathune, who, in addition to his plans to take over all the kingdoms, sets his eyes on her, Danza feels that he has no choice but to betroth her. From here, the plot thickens. Bain, despite his humble, and questionable, origins, is seen as a s suitable alternative to the cruel Mathune. With the help of a young lord whose sexual preferences are tolerated, but not welcomed in the kingdoms, and the indomitable Phaera, Bain organizes a force to confront Mathune.
Altered Destinies by Yvonne Hertzberger is a riveting novel that is hard to assign a genre classification to. Part epic adventure, part dystopian future-earth, it nonetheless will grab your imagination, and keep you entertained for page after exciting page. Hertzberger is a master at creating alternate, but realistic environments and characters that you can love—or hate—with equal measure.
Although this is billed as perhaps her final novel, one can only hope she’ll relent and thrill us with further adventures of Bain and Phaera.
I received a complimentary advanced review copy of this book, and I give it five stars without hesitation. You’ll be doing yourself a great service by snatching it up as soon as it’s released.
M’rain is on the threshold of womanhood, but she is restless and longs to know more than just the desert world in which her village is located. One day, while out food gathering, she wanders far, and after taking shelter in a cave, is taken captive by a band of women who are under the thrall of a mad man who claims to have magic powers. With the help of the enigmatic lizard, Glick, M’rain escapes and makes her way through the labyrinth of tunnels and into a land like known she’s ever known. Glick informs her that she is the chosen one, a Traveler, who can transit the labyrinth and serve as the link between the two people. But first, she must free those held by the mad man.
Labyrinth Quest by Yvonne Hertzberger is fantasy fiction at its best. The author creates a believable world, inhabited by believable creatures. Her characters feel real, and I found myself cheering for M’rain and her newfound love, P’puck, as they jockeyed back and forth concerning their feelings for each other. Hertzberger can put a lot of meaning in a few words, and the images conjured up by her prose were fantastic.
This is a story that begs for a sequel—perhaps the story of M’rain and P’puck’s heirs. Loved it. A five-star book!
In The Dreamt Child, the final book in Yvonne Hertzberger’s Earth’s Pendulum trilogy, we join the seer Liannis who had been healing for two years since the travails she suffered in Through Kestrel’s Eyes. She is joined by Merrist, and in the meaning of ‘joined’ as used by the author, the two of them become one.
I received a free review copy of this book, and after having read the first two, approached it with a sense of anticipation that was not disappointed. Hertzberger continues to amuse and amaze with her ability to create a fantasy world that makes suspending disbelief an easy task. Crisp dialogue that carries us into the minds and hearts of the characters, and an epic account of the suffering that can ensue when earth’s balance is upset, this is as much a commentary on history, politics and sociology as fantasy. But, first and foremost, it is sheer enjoyment to read. You don’t have to be a fan of fantasy to delight in Hertzberger’s deft prose and delicate touch.
The Dreamt Child, like the two volumes that preceded it, is fantasy at its best!
Through Kestrel’s Eyes continues Yvonne Hertzberger’s epic Earth’s Pendulum fantasy. I received a free copy of this book for review. Seventeen years of peace have followed the events chronicled in Back From Chaos, but that peace is soon destroyed when the rulers of the kingdoms of Gharn and Leith are overthrown, and their heirs seek help from Lord Gaelen. Thrust into the middle of this mess is Liannis, a gifted young apprentice seer with amazing powers, who finds her apprenticeship ended when her mentor Liethis dies. Now, she must somehow restore the Earth’s balance if the drought and famine caused by the weakening of Earth’s power is to be ended.
Just when things seem darkest, though, Earth sends Liannis a kestrel, through whose eyes, Liannis sees more, and a horse to carry her on her perilous journey. With her ability to mind-speak with birds and animals, these two become her main companions and staunchest allies.
Hertzberger demonstrates her skill as a fantasy writer as she takes us along with Liannis, who must battle doubt in her abilities as she faces test unlike any she’s ever known before. The reader is taken from first person point of view – through Liannis’s eyes – to third person, but in a way that rather than being disruptive, actually makes sense. She has created a fantasy world that seems very real, populated by people we can relate to. Despite her powers, Liannis is someone you find yourself rooting for from the first time she appears on the page. Good novels engage all the senses, and Through Kestrel’s Eyes does just that – and, not just the usual five senses, but the sixth sense as well.
A good sword and sorcery novel has to be a combination of the fantastic with the believable if it is to work. Yvonne Hertzberger’s Back From Chaos, the first book in her Earth’s Pendulum series, has just that – a fantasy world of seers and magic described in a way that makes suspending disbelief an easy task.
I received a free review copy of Back From Chaos, which I started reading on one of the coldest days of this winter, and just after a March snowstorm and plummeting temperatures left me stranded in my suburban home. Turned out to be one of the best ways to deal with being snowbound that I could have come up with.
Kudos to Hertzberger for creating a totally believable world, peopled by characters we can identify with, love, hate – but, most importantly, believe. From Klast, the spy-assassin, who seems to start out as a supporting character, but is in fact central to much of the story, to Marja, the last surviving member of her family after an invading army kills the rest, we’re introduced to people who feel real.
I reserve five-star ratings for books that impress me deeply. Back From Chaos gets an easy five stars.