Review: At the Walls of Galbrieth (Wycaan Master)

At the Walls of Galbrieth (Wycaan Master)

                             Wall of GalbriethAuthor: Alon Shalev

Gold Stars 3-5

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Suggested Reading

Genre: YA/Fantasy

In the land of Odessiya, lost is the balance among the ancient races: Elves, Dwarves, Humans, and others long forgotten.  Here, a young forest elf is catapulted into a world of secrets where life, death, and honour wage war in land where sacrifice is a daily reality.  In a race for his life, young Seanchai learns more than he ever wanted to know about survival and his own special role in re-forging a lost Alliance.

Shalev follows in the tradition of epic fantasy utilizing core races, character traits, and plot lines.  His protagonist, Seanchai, is launched on his quest in the first pages of the book, immediately immersing readers in the politics of the world of Odessiya.

His writing style is simple, clean, and direct making it easy to follow the action of the plot – the strength of this book.  Young readers will connect with the notion of being out in the wide-world without quite understanding what their role is and muddling through as best as they can to an ultimate destiny they don’t yet comprehend.

However, the very strengths of this work are also its weaknesses.  Shalev’s simple, straightforward prose leaves out the important details of all 5 senses.  Here, he chooses to tell and not show how the characters experiences affect them.  Readers will gloss over these moments and not internalize the true power of what the narration intends.  So saying, as an adult reader I was not committed to the story until I was half-way through the book.

The attention to structure in the story makes it easy to see the bones that make up the plot: inciting incident/call to action, wary traveller, helpful guide, older mentor, a transformation, a growing understanding of self, etc.  As an English teacher these elements stand out to me more than the average reader and I am able to anticipate character motivation, and tease out secrets well before they are revealed.

In my opinion, a book that will stand the test of time is one where teens and adults alike are able to lose themselves in the story following the enticing flesh and muscle (the details) – good bones are necessary but a skeleton will always be an unfulfilled promise.

Review by M.J. Moores

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