#1, The Keystone Bone Trilogy
This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.
Eons has shrouded the giant dragon in legend. Ancient myths soon become terrifyingly real…
Aea is an outsider. At age six the clan executed her father and when her mother and sister disappeared, Aea's life spiraled into chaos.
Suddenly staggering out of the woods, broken by the deadly disease the Field Blight, her mother lays a desperate choice on Aea. To leave the protective forest realm and save her sister from mortal danger.
In a race against time, Aea puts the noose of the Field Blight around not only her own neck, but also that of her unborn child.
Before long, Aea discovers that the world of Erisdün is nothing like she imagined. Surviving the Field Blight might be the least of her concerns, as the great dragon dispatches his army to retrieve the Keystone Bone.
The bone of a God is the only component that will prevent the Arch Demon from breaking free. Powers as old as time itself are about to set the world on fire.
Desolation is an epic fantasy.
If you like a fast-paced read with dragons and demons, then you will love Desolation.
Delve into the exciting adventure today.
This is the first book in the Keystone Bone trilogy.
(Must be read in order)
5 stars for world-building, but the characters and plot lost me
First, let me start off by saying that the author has a wonderful imagination and ability to describe a rich and immersive setting. His world-building was phenomenal and it was easy to get drawn in.
I loved the Duian, and the other sentient creatures that inhabit this world. They were not just your stock fantasy creatures—elves, dwarves, and humans—but instead there were creatures of great variety and physical/mental/spiritual qualities. I enjoyed learning about the nations, the habitations, and the peoples of this world immensely. That aspect of this book was incredibly satisfying.
The Duian, in particular, appealed to me. Forest dwellers, they not only have a deep love and spiritual connection to nature, but become sick and even die if they stray too far from their forest home. Two of the main characters, Aea and Ayida, are of the Duian species.
Ayida was my favorite character. She was intriguing and although her misguided actions often advanced the plot in a negative way, I found myself rooting for her and caring about what happened to her. The hints of a potential future romance with a human were sweet and in good taste as well.
Even “the bad guys,” a dragon, Kral, Trog, and Lizoors, were interesting, and not so “black and white” as to be immediately dismissed. The dragon’s and the Kral’s sense of honor, for example, were interesting, as was their mission to stop the escape of an imprisoned arch demon (while at the same time ordering the Trog and Lizoors to launch bloody raids on human settlements). I liked the nuanced morality found in these creatures.
Aside from demons and a very dangerous and conniving demon servant, Troxal, mention was made of gods and goddesses, which were confirmed as real and made brief appearances in written historical/mythological references as well as a character’s dream/hallucination.
So, setting, I give this book 5 stars. It’s got amazing potential, and I’m a sucker for world maps and this book has one to aid the reader.
To my consternation, I found the characters difficult to relate to, and their motivations/actions at times bewildering. There were definitely times when Aea and Ayida did things that I just thought were foolish or completely irrational, or that served to move the plot forward but at the expense of staying true to their characters.
Aea suffered too much. I can tolerate a fair amount of tragedy in a character’s life, especially if it serves to drive his/her personal growth, but some of the tragedies that befell Aea just felt mean spirited and unnecessary. I actually feel the author owes her an apology. At times the reader was teased by tragedies avoided, only to have them come to pass later. I didn’t find that to be dramatic tension building—I found it to be frustrating and exhausting. I actually feel that Aea would’ve had a much easier time of it had she been a character in George R. R. Martin’s Westeros, and that’s saying a lot. Again, it’s OK for bad things to happen to good people in a story—that’s the way of the real world after all—but a good degree of Aea’s misfortunes felt completely unnecessary and frankly just plain mean. I didn’t see her suffering as driving the plot forward or helping her grow as a character. It just made me mad.
Especially in the first half of the book, before characters’ stories began converging, I felt the chapters jumped around from character to character too much. It became tempting to skip ahead to follow along with one particular character’s saga and skip the “interruptions.” Again, I get the world building, but the point of view jumped between characters too frequently at times.
Ultimately, I felt that the setting and world building were fantastic, but the characters were hard to relate to and acted either too predictably or completely unpredictably. I didn’t feel like they had enough internal consistency to their actions and thinking. Ayida was perhaps the only exception, with an interesting conflict between her ambitions and her personal code of ethics. I also felt like this story lacked a satisfying conclusion, leaving much up in the air and settling for a sudden narrow problem while leaving the epic problem completely up in the air. Naturally, it’s a series, and the idea is for the reader to read the next books to follow the epic conflict, but I felt like the ending was a tad artificial and focused more on cutting things off at a certain page count than finding a more organic breaking point.
There were aspects of this book that I really liked, but others that left me deeply conflicted, and that’s why I think I was stuck with the ambivalent review I’m now leaving. If you like epic fantasy, and especially immersive worlds, read it for yourself—you may have a completely different opinion from me!