Fantasy is one of my great loves in reading. I grew up reading many of the fantasy greats, and because of that I'm extremely picky about fantasy and it takes quite a bit to get me to try out a new fantasy author. "Eolyn" was one of those rare books that completely blew me away. I was lucky enough to have a chance to read a copy of High Maga before it was released, and I was once again pulled into a story that was so completely captivating I couldn't put it down.
The world of Moisehén was expertly crafted in the first book in the book, and it lives up to it's legend in High Maga. Gastreich has a knack for description and world building. Every detail makes the world richer and I never once found myself skimming to get back to the main story when she described the scenes. The world itself is almost a character in it's own right because of it's richness. It affects the characters, their plans, and the outcomes of their journeys. It's a world I have come to love.
The beautifully crafted characters also live up to their appearances in the first book. Eolyn is a very complex character. She has worked so hard and fought for everything she has. She doesn't want to give any of that up, yet her heart yearns for the one man she truly loves, and having him may mean losing a part of herself. Her struggle to balance her desires with her goals creates such depth in her character that readers will easily come to care about her. Akmael is also a strong character. He is determined and wants Eolyn, but he also has a kingdom to run and responsibilities to his people. Balancing all the different aspects of his life are not easy. At times he comes off as cold as he deals with his duties to his kingdom, but then he turns around and shows amazing tenderness to Eolyn. I loved experiencing the lives of both characters and watching them change throughout the story. The story of their love and all the difficulties they face is absolutely breathtaking. Its depth and emotion make it difficult to pull yourself away from.
The side characters, which it's really hard to call them that, are a strong addition to the story as well. Mage Corey was one of my favorites from the first book, but he becomes so much more in this one. It's difficult to know what is really going on inside his head at times, and it's as difficult for the reader to know whether or not to trust him as it is for Eolyn at times. Another set of characters that took on a whole new life were the villains of this book. Rishona and Tahmir were friends in the first book who betray Eolyn, and here they pick up their plotting and spur a war between their two countries. Watching them now turn against her was heartbreaking, not only because I cared about these two in the first book, but because of how much it hurt Eolyn. The connections Gastreich builds between reader and character truly bring this story to life.
It's hard to say too much more about this book without giving away details of the plot, but suffice it to say that it was an all-around beautifully written story. It's one I will read again, and one I recommend to all my friends whether they're fantasy readers or not.
It's not just me who loved High Maga, check out what Publisher's Weekly had to say about it!
“War propels the book forward, and the characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst. . . . Fans of Gastreich’s previous work will want to catch this continuation of her story.” –Publishers Weekly
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Meet the Author
KARIN RITA GASTREICH lives in Kansas City and Costa Rica. An ecologist by vocation, her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. Karin's first novel, EOLYN, was nominated for the 2012 Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award. Her third novel, DAUGHTER OF AITHNE, is scheduled for release in 2015. Karin’s short stories have appeared in World Jumping, also from Hadley Rille Books, as well as in Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.
Follow Karin’s adventures into fantastic worlds, both real and imagined, at http://eolynchronicles.blogspot.com and at http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com. For the latest updates on events and publications related to HIGH MAGA, join Eolyn on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Eolyn/110814625640244 and on Twitter @EolynChronicles.
Author web links:
Blog for Eolyn: http://eolynchronicles.blogspot.com
Blog Heroines of Fantasy: http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com