by Steve Parker
Trafford Publishing

"Snow swirled in with him and settled on the flagstones. He looked around and approached a man sitting by the fire. Without removing his hood, the stranger sat down and held out a piece of parchment. On it were words in an ancient language and a symbol, one Calon Gan would have recognized. The symbol of the Council of Barakelth."

Parker takes a refreshing viewpoint by offering us a story told from the perspective of the Skrel, what most humans call monsters. Joined by a human or two, the Skrel race against elves and humans to determine the fate of the world. Except in this case, the monsters only look monstrous—for the most part. Like any good story, even the good characters are haunted by their own demons.

As the Skrel and their friends work to address a growing sense of distress and a potential threat to the welfare of the planet, the elves and their human allies preach about their desire for peace and prepare the means by which it can be achieved. As the two groups rush toward the same key, it will be their actions that reveal the true motivations and relative morality of each side.

The concept of the story is highly intriguing and enough to maintain interest throughout the text. Numerous possibilities for discussion on a cold winter's night are introduced within the context of an entertaining story. A note regarding the pronunciation of the Skrel language (showing a bit of the author's Welsh roots) enables the author to develop a sense of the other-worldly. However, the story is told to rather than felt by the reader. While it has an impressive array of characters, each with their own voice and personality, the context of the story spans continents and seasons. A quick text to read at about 200 pages, the reader will complete the story desiring a greater connection to the world Parker has envisioned.

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