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Title: White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors (White Raven, #1)
Author: Irina Lopatina
Publisher: Light Messages
Goodreads Summary: A young hero who must protect the land of his people from evil monsters trying to take over.
With the aid of Urart, the magical sword that has been passed down from the time of the ancient northern ancestors, Grand Duke Vlady can offer temporary protection to his people. But Prince Vraigo, Vlady’s nephew, who is endowed with magical power himself, understands that the source of the evil monsters must be found if there’s any hope of survival. Along with a motley crew of his forest-dwelling friends, Vraigo sets off on a perilous quest in search of the koschei, the powerful, corrupt Archmagus whose mission is the destruction not just of Areya, but of the entire world.As if this weren’t bad enough, Urart disappears from the duke’s stronghold. Without it, Areya is doomed, and only Vraigo, the White Raven, can possibly get the sword back. This journey requires Vraigo to use all of his keen wits and magical abilities, as well as to ally himself to dangerous creatures like yagas and werewolves, natural enemies of man, and precipitates the young prince into the most bewildering, complex challenge he has faced yet: life in the twenty-first century.
There is a useful character guide at the back which I referred to frequently. With such strange and fanastical names it can be hard to keep track of who's who all the time so I found this extremely helpful. This guide is illustrated as well so you get an impression of what the author imagined that each of the characters and beasts would look like. In addition, there is a little image at the beginning of each chapter which I thought was a nice touch. Usually I like to be left to my own devices and imagine things to be how I want them to be; however, with so many mythical and made-up creatures and people, I found the illustrations to be a great aid.
As the author is Russian, this book is a little different from other Young Adult books. This makes the story more unique as the setting and the scenery are inspired by places that Irina has seen in Russia. I liked that a lot of the things were inspired by somewhere other than England where most of the other fantasy books have been set; however, sometimes it was obvious that the author was not English as some phrases just didn’t flow quite as well as they could’ve done.
I didn’t find myself particularly attached to any of the characters which was a shame. For some reason, the main character, Vraigo, just didn’t speak out to me and neither did his friends Nik and Lera. That said, I still found the story and their quest really interesting.This book is really descriptive and I found it really easy to conjure up images of the world the characters lived in in my mind. However, I also found the book a bit dense and hard to get through. This definitely isn't one of those books that you whizz through; instead it's one that requires quite an intense amount of concentration to figure out who's doing what when and why. There were a lot of plot twists that I wasn’t expecting at all, namely, a little trip to the 21st century. I found this passage to be a bit weird and was not as gripping as the rest of the novel which was a disappointment.
White Raven is the first in a new trilogy by Irina Lopatina so I expected there to be lots of twists and turns with a big cliffhanger on the end; however, instead, everything seems to be unresolved, so I’m not really sure what to expect from the next two books at all. As a stand alone novel, White Raven is a fairly good story; however, with so many lose ends, I was a bit frustrated at the end. Hopefully, once the next two books have been released, everything will be cleared up to make this a fantastic series. Personally, I found the cover of White Raven to be a little scary and weird which didn’t encourage me to read this novel. Don’t let the cover put you off because this really is a great fantasy book!
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