Thursday, October 31, 2019

Book Review: 'Mannethorn's Key' by Simon Lindley

Mannethorn's Key (The Key of Life Book 1) by [Lindley, Simon]
Canadian author Simon Lindley is also a musician and intrepid explorer. He is
a former publisher. MANNETHORN’S KEY is his writing debut and hopefully, being Book #1, will be followed by a series. He lives in the Canadian Rockies.

Simon’s chosen genre is epic fantasy complete with mythical creatures. With the world turning in a slightly askew fashion the time is ripe for another prolonged escape epic – that is precisely what Simon has provided. His use of the English language is lyrical, he manages to create different worlds without losing the reader in the process of moving form this one to the story’s and he has that gift of shaping an epic fantasy adventure with humor - a trait that provides comic relief without stepping outside the progress of the story. His characters may be fanciful but they are so well sculpted that we can easily visualize them and identify with their particular paths through the story.

A parcel of the book’s opening is a fine indicator of the path ahead: ‘Quick – to the keep! Ka’s head snapped back as she dove from the threat, but the voice was borne by spell. She plummeted past moss-covered cliffs toward water-chiseled rocks, spinning wildly as she tried to regain control. Keeping her massive frame aloft required focus, her body the size of a small horse – her wingspan over twice that. Although able to glide for hours, hunting from the heavens and utilizing thermals to buoy her, she was incapable of dexterous maneuvers, a limitation that occasionally cost her the taste of more agile prey. If she spread out her wings, the force of her dive would snap her hollow bones. It had to be gradual. She righted her course in time, swooping above knife-like spires, the gorge’s waterfalls exhaling in her ears as she soared over their mists. Once out of danger her panic turned to rage, her scale-like feathers undulating in flushed hues. Her master's sudden call had almost cost her life. “Kwatipwa!” she spat with a squawk, then breathed. The glow of her scale-feathers faded as she calmed, focusing instead on what the magical intrusion meant. Master had summoned her home. Almost a full sunturn had passed since he had sent Ka on her mission, freed from her covenant and permitted to soar alone, kept company only by the songs of Dakal’s waterfalls. But she was Damatibound, and Master needed her back at the keep. Flapping hard, she gained the altitude lost in her plummet, until the dayfall air heated from the toil of the sun scooped her up. Below, her shadow flickered amidst the foliage as the late sun skirted the canopy. She would have roosted until dawn but sensed his urgency, correcting her course toward the north.
But what of the mysterious errand that had delivered her to Dakal? Had she completed it? The answer, she knew, lay ahead, toward the one who understood the wheels of the world.’

The plot? Yes, there is a brief synopsis to assist with that need – ‘ Two worlds, two spirits, one power. At the end of an age, a Bearer wielded the Key of Life and ended Dragon's Rule. Such powers and heroes, long dead or lost, must again be raised and found...Algarth Willowbrow is about to gamble everything. His once-powerful Order is in ruins, and he faces an unwinnable battle to save his life and his people. In a last, desperate attempt, he lures his arch nemesis deep within his keep, hoping to utilize him and reclaim a long-hidden magic, powerful enough to save the world – or destroy it. Bartholomew Waxman, former derivatives broker extraordinaire has gambled everything – and lost. Bankrupt, unemployed and divorced, his only hope for salvation is to try and rebuild his self-inflicted shattered life. But at his first job interview, he is grabbed by a spell and thrust into the netherworld of Between. There, he is groomed to wield a power so vast that it will decide a world’s fate. The land’s only hope is the reluctant and unprepared Bartholomew, the wizard Algarth whose powers are gravely in doubt – and the Key of Life, with its true power hidden from all. Delve into the beginnings of a vast fantasy epic that embraces a man, a wizard and a world seeking redemption.’

Finish this book and you’ll be waiting for the next installment. Very fine epic fantasy and a swell trip away from our present world mess. Grady Harp, March 18

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.