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Lodestone #2: The World of Ice and Stars by Mark Whiteway

Lodestone Book Two: The World of Ice and Stars by Mark Whiteway: When we last saw them, Shann and Boxx were stranded on a strange shore on the far side of their planet. They meet some Kelanni from this new land and attempt to continue their quest for the piece of ancient technology to defeat The Prophet who oppresses their people. The physics of this world is explained in more depth, giving it a far more science fiction feel than the first book, which could easily be considered fantasy. We learn a bit more about the character’s emotions and personal histories, including the introduction of young scientist Rael. I like him, but for some reason Book One gave me the impression that something might develop between Shann and Lyall. That’s not evident here, alas. I am, however, still hopelessly in love with Alondo and still have no idea who Oliah is and why I’m supposed to care about her. But I might just be jealous. :)

Though the ending clearly alludes to what’s planned for Book Three, most things are fairly well wrapped up, giving the reader a sense of satisfaction. (Unlike Book One, which ended on a major cliffhanger.) You want to continue the story, but you don’t feel let down if you have to wait a while for the next installment. But still, I hope it’s not too long. Kelanni’s a nifty place.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Lodestone #1: The Sea of Storms by Mark Whiteway

Lodestone #1: The Sea of Storms by Mark Whiteway: As an indie book reviewer, I come across a lot of, um, less than stellar fiction. Then, once in a while, I come across a self-published book like The Sea of Storms and I am reminded of why I do this in the first place. Planet Kelanni has three suns: a white and yellow that move across the sky much like our own Sun, and a large, dim, red sun that never moves, in much the same way as the Earth doesn’t when viewed from the Moon. The inhabitants of this planet, though never described in detail, are (presumably) humanoid creatures ruled by a mysterious Prophet and his Keltar emissaries who routinely collect citizens as “tributes,” never to be seen again. A young girl named Shann joins two men – Lyall and Alondo – in their quest to overthrow the Prophet and free the tributes. Meanwhile, forbidding Keltar Keris receives shocking information from the strange, somewhat beetle-like creatures known as Chandara, information that turns her world completely upside-down. Woven throughout the drama is a mysterious and precious mineral known as lodestone.

Though the book’s title is somewhat misleading – the Sea of Storms is not actually reached until the last few pages – the story itself is quite good. The action is well-paced and the world is solidly constructed. I especially liked that while there were creatures clearly meant to stand in for familiar animals such as dogs and horses, nothing was described in comparison with Earth since, obviously, the Kelanni know nothing of Earth. Shann, Keris, Lyall, and Alondo are engaging characters, easily distinguishable without relying on stereotypes. Oliah came out of left-field, making her relationship with the leads rather unbelievable, but her appearance is so brief I can almost ignore it. The rest of the book is a marvelous trek through a fantastic new world.

I’m glad I was warned in the title that this is not a standalone novel, or I would have been irritated at the cliffhanger ending. As it stands, I’ll have to see about getting my hands on the next installment in this promising new fantasy series.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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