Sunday, May 06, 2007

Nightwalker

Nightwalker (The Warlocks of Talverdin: Book 1), by K.V. Johansen
http://www.sybertooth.com/kvj/

Canadian/YA/Fantasy

Maurey has dark hair, dark eyes, and pale white skin. No one else in Dunmorra looks like this, and from his early childhood he is taunted with the epithet "Nightwalker". But Maurey knows he can't be a Nightwalker. The Nightwalkers, Warlocks with the ability to slip into a shadow world and move unseen, have been banished from Dunmorra. They live to the north. Maurey can't really see that they could be as evil as people are taught. But, he is certain that he cannot be one of them.

Maurey is an orphan, his mother died in childbirth, and he was brought up by a wealthy benefactress, who sent Maurey to the grammar school at CragRoyal University. After her death, though, Chancellor Holden of the University steals Maurey's school fees, and Maurey is forced into indentured servitude. Some time later, Maurey is running through the twisting and cavernous tunnels below the University, trying to escape some bullies, when he runs directly into Chancellor Holden, various other officials, and King Dugald of Dunmorra. While he is being reprimanded for this, it is discovered that Maurey wears around his neck two rings. One, the King recognizes instantly as having belonged to his mother, who had eloped from Court, leaving her family, in company with a Nightwalker. The second ring, even more importantly, belonged to that Nightwalker, and would allow humans to enter the Warlocks realms, which are protected by great magics.

Maurey is arrested, and just as he is about to be put through a tortuous test that would show whether or not he is, indeed, a Nightwalker, he is rescued by a very unexpected source. He and his new friend Annot, the Chancellor's niece, must now decide what to do. Whether to hide in Dunmorra, go south to a new country, or travel north, to Talverdin, to warn the Nightwalkers.

Maurey and Annot are very likeable characters. And, watching the development of their friendship throughout the story is one the great joys of reading the book. In general, the secondary characters are also really well drawn, although, some of them come off a little like caricatures. This, I think, is because the book is explicitly about prejudice, and some of the characters become tools in the message. This aside, it is a very enjoyable read.

The book is fantastical - set in medievalish worlds, with magical beings - but it is also quite realistic in the telling. Characters use magic as a tool, but they are forced to struggle and work for their goals, and magic does not become a prop to them.

I really enjoyed this book, while it is a first entry in a series, it does have a satisfactory conclusion, and can be read as a stand alone novel. I, though, am looking forward to book 2.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Yes, it's great to finally see some good YA fantasy coming out of Canada! Yay!