5 Out of 5 Stars The Lighter Side of Epic Fantasy
When Michelle Franklin asked me if I would like to have an Advance Release Copy of her book Tales of Frewyn to read and review, I accepted eagerly. If you haven't read Michelle's debut novel, The Commander and The Den Asaan Rautu then you really must. She leads you off on a vastly wondrous and magical journey of discovery and delight as you make your first acquaintance with the enigmatic beings known as the Haanta. You will become captivated and crave much more of them. While many of their exploits are in books yet to be released, Tales of Frewyn provides you with your much-needed Haanta fix with both style and flair.
To many authors, epic fantasy is written as an homage to J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan or any number of other notable writers of classic-styled epic fantasy. Worlds hang in the balance, impossible quests are undertaken and tremendous wars and battles are waged by truly heroic figures. Michelle covers this style masterfully in her first book.
There exists, however, a whole other style of epic fantasy championed by the likes of Piers Anthony and Terry Pratchett. These writers artfully craft their worlds as well and people them with heroes no less awe-inspiriring than their counterparts previously mentioned. What they do differently, is to invest humor, light-hearted frivolity and an air of fun into their novels. With Tales of Frewyn, Michelle bids fair to step out of the shadow of these iconic writers and make her way forward to stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
Tales of Frewyn is a captivating melange of shorter pieces that allow her stalwart hardened characters to be imperfect, flawed...people. The tales address such non-heroic topics as door mats, cheese tasting, playing in the snow and...spiders. These vignettes allow Michelle's readers a unique opportunity to step behind the scenes, so to speak, and see the players from a backstage point of view. I must say that the view is thoroughly enjoyable.
Michelle provides us the familiar characters The Commander and Rautu, while trooping out a wholly new and unexpected group of players. Added to the mix are Rautu's Haanta brethren: Otenohi, Unghaahi and Obanthaa Leraa. While much about them is strange and unknown, since their exploits reside in books not yet seen, enough can be inferred and deduced to make them quickly become key to the Tales' success. The introduction of the elven Kai Linaa, mate of Unghaahi, adds a nice feminine touch to the mix. A generous helping of Frewyns of various classes and a side of pets makes this fantasy banquet completely tasty and infinitely consumable.
Your enjoyment of Tales of Frewyn will be unabated from first tale to last and sadly, all too soon, you will be salivating for more of Michelle's expertly prepared offerings. I have little doubt that future works of hers will be all that we, her loyal readers, could expect and more. For now though, sit back and read again and again these compact, expertly-crafted tales and have a bit of cake. The best may be yet to come in the world of Frewyn/Haanta adventures, but Tales of Frewyn stands ready to make the wait far, far less daunting. Bravo Michelle for a seamless collection of tales well told.