High fantasy isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but Eolyn is a different story. What turns a lot of people off of fantasy is complex magic systems, outlandish characters, epic journeys that last forever, and long drawn out backstories. While Eolyn captures the basic elements of fantasy very well, she dodged the bits that make people shy away.
Eolyn is the journey of a young woman whose life has been torn apart by war. Running from further cruelty, Eolyn is set upon a path that changes the path of not only her destiny, but that of an entire kingdom. While trying to unravel her destiny Eolyn discovers more than she ever imagined. Magic, friendship, betrayal, death, and love are her companions on her journey.
One of my favorite aspects of the first part of the book is watching Eolyn grow up. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t usually like this approach because of the choppy, rushed feel the “growing up” chapters usually exhibit. This was not the case in Eolyn. Karin did a wonderful job of starting off the book from a young girl’s point of view. The innocence of Eolyn was expressed in her unfailing belief in the around her. This was made even better by the hints Karin gave through other characters eyes that maybe the people ein Eolyn’s life were not as pure as she believed. It was a fabulous tactic that lead into the later chapters were Eolyn is forced to confront lies and deceptions.
As Eolyn grows there was a subtle progression of her character from naïve child to a more understanding young woman. The change is not complete, of course, or Eolyn would see future conflicts too easily, but it is realistic.
Woven throughout the story is the love story of Eolyn and Akmael. While the story in general was beautifully written, the innocence of secret childhood friends turned into lovers on opposite sides of a war enhances every aspect of the story. In the beginning their relationship is sweet tempered by lies. As it grows it turns more passionate, but held off by circumstance and fear. In the end…well I don’t want to spoil too much, but trust me, it is a beautiful and heart wrenching love story from the first day.
In the background of love, lies, and battle are the descriptions of the world in which Eolyn lives. Vivid descriptions have long been a tradition in high fantasy, but Karin managed to resist the four and five page cataloging of every single detail some authors get trapped by, and keeps her painting of the surroundings simple yet captivating. In her interview Karin mentioned wanting to give people who have never had the chance to experience the forest a chance to do so in Eolyn, and she was successful. The descriptions of the South Woods and the journey to the King’s City are difficult not to get sucked into. You’ll find yourself reading a little slower just to take it all in.
Overall, I really loved joining Eolyn on her journey. My only critique-and this is really just a personal preference-is that I thought the book could have ended a little sooner. I say this not because I didn’t find the final few chapters fascinating and beautiful (especially the last scene) but because the battle and excursion to the underworld were so breathtaking and climactic that the final chapters felt slow in comparison. Having read the first few chapter of book to I thought it might have been interesting to have seen the book end after the battle and insert the final chapters of book one into book two. Like I said, this was by no means a flaw in the book, just my thoughts. For those of you who have read my work, you know I like things to end on a dramatic note!
Eolyn was a beautiful story, one I highly recommend.
Would I recommend Eolyn? Absolutely.
Who would I recommend this book to? Anyone who loved fantasy, people who have never read fantasy in their lives (this will make you want to read more), anyone who loves the forest or mountains, okay...pretty much anyone!
So, go get your copy of Eolyn and get ready to be swept up in a journey you won’t soon forget.