Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review: 'Mantle' by Gary Bregar


Colorado author Gary Bregar appears to have all the makings of a successful new author - he is young and handsome, is a Database Specialist, has traveled widely (Mexico, Bolivia, Portugal, etc), admits to having a passion for creating fantastical stories and a strong desire to share those stories with others, thrives on creativity, is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and makes his formal debut with MANTLE: The Return of the Sha, Book 1 of a series. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado.

When a new writer of fantasy adventure novels offers a map of the make believe land where his story will happen as the opening page of a book, the reader immediately feels drawn into the story, as though visualizing the fantasy will be in the comfort zone. And so we see the land of Mantle with its four kingdoms before Gary offers a terse but spellbinding prologue: `Enveloped in darkness, the children of Menagraff begin to take shape, slowly drawing the dust of evil from the womb of Mount Narciss. In the final stages of their development, it will be the distinctive singular horn that will complete their arrival. Their birth has been accelerated by the return of the second prince, and they require only the return of the third to complete their metamorphosis from soil to beast. Once complete, it will be their father and king who will hand them their ability to awaken. They will then pull themselves from the mountain to battle against the innocence and good virtue of the three allied kingdoms-- returning balance between good and evil to the land of Mantle.' Mystery, creative characters taking form, and the story begins.

Gary brings enough of the detail of the story in the synopsis to assure we will be ready for this fist installment of an ongoing series: `In the land of Mantle lie four kingdoms. Three of these kingdoms prosper in peace as friends and allies, while the fourth was forgotten long ago. Enveloped in darkness in the forgotten Kingdom of Skite, the children of Menagraff begin to take shape--slowly drawing the dust of evil from the womb of Mount Narciss. Their birth has been accelerated by the return of the second prince, and they require only the return of the third to complete their metamorphosis from soil to beast. Once complete, it will be their father and king, Menagraff, who will hand them their ability to awaken. They will then pull themselves from the mountain to battle against the innocence and good virtue of the three allied kingdoms--returning balance between good and evil to the land of Mantle. Their fight against the peaceful kingdoms will not be so easily won, however. While most everyone in the Kingdom of Forris has magical abilities of some kind (such as Animal-speak), eleven-year-old Lizabet Abbot was seemingly born without any magical gifts of her own. But Lizabet does have a gift, and when Menagraff rises against the friendly kingdoms of Mantle, her abilities prove to be far more powerful than anyone could have imagined.'

Another trait that suggests success is an authors ability to provide identification with the more-realistic cast members and Gary masters this early on: `Dorian Bellows, who lived with his parents nearby, was [Lizabet's] only true friend. Unlike the others, he saw past her magical shortcomings, and visited her often on the small farm where she lived with her Aunt Roni, brother Jonathan, and sister Bella.' So we have solid fantasy paired with identifiable characters in a very strange land - and all that appears to be a solid start for the new career of Gary Bregar. Grady Harp, September 15







Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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