As the number of stories I read grow I'm amazed to find how different each author is from one another. Some write stories that seem to extend from a dark place within and create terrifying horror stories, others try and keep us on the edge of our seat with action and thrills, but there are some that seem to try to keep things light hearted. My review for this week, Legends of Leone by M.G. Dekle, was definitely of the ladder.
The story opens on the city of Toble's Crossing during a time of wonder; the stars themselves have descended from the heavens above onto an island at the center of the lake. As they go to investigate Leone Verrat, a very inquisitive 4-year old, begins collecting small stones that are scattered around the area. Strangely they glow when she focuses her thoughts onto them. Before anybody has a chance to notice this, however, she is pulled into the ground in an Alice in Wonderland type event that catapults her into a room with two very strange men.
One of the men takes a liking to Leone, the other is standoffish and seems more interested in the stone she brings with her. Luckily for the young girl the kindly man takes her in, promising her that one day she will have a chance to go back through the portal once they can reopen it; he does, unfortunately, neglect to mention exactly just how long that will be.
Once the prologue ends you're transported 13 years into the future where 17 year old Leone has just graduated from Blueroot Academy, a premiere school for children with unique afflictions for magic. Though she has graduated towards the bottom of her class, she has still been nominated to partake in "The Ordeal". The Ordeal is a test of skill that determines whether or not a person is qualified to take on his/her chosen profession, one that if failed can send the most promising student into the rear of any job candidacy.
On the way to get the details and her approval to undertake the Ordeal, Leone runs into a young swordsman named Falchion. Falchion is at the top of his class, and you quickly find out that his puns are not on par with his skill in battle. It is revealed in a meeting with the school's dean that the Ordeal requires a partnership to be completed and oddly enough Leone and Falchion are paired together much to both their delights.
As the two begin their journey it becomes apparent that the two were written to be both polar opposites of one another, but in a way that makes them the perfect fit as staring characters. Their traits also play an integral part in the way they take on the Ordeal's many different obstacles that will be presented to the group, though the obstacles become the last of their worries when they're attacked by a vicious crystal golem that breaks into the cave that houses the trials, a golem that was forbidden to be created.
While the story progresses and the cast of colorful characters that Dekle created grows, Leone and Falchion are forced to battle kings guards, dodge elves and befriend dwarfs; all while continuing to fire the witty banter and one-liners, and learning more about their heritages. Each page throughout reveals a little more about the sinister plot that is unfolding in the Elvish world, one that threatens to tear the very fabric of the worlds apart and send the races into an all out war for control and survival, all the while keeping you laughing and cringing in the same paragraphs.
This story is one of those that I could rant about all day, but I've managed to narrow it down to a few major pros:
- The banter between the characters comes off a little forced at first, but quickly grows on you and you find yourself chuckling page after page regardless of the situation.
- The way that Dekle portrayed magic usage is something I've never read. Each spell is cast by the mage taking a component and mentally manipulating its properties giving them endless possibilities, though keeping the strength they possess in check.
- The way the page/chapter transitions flow incredibly smoothly. This is one of those stories where you find it hard to put down due to the smooth way it reads.
- The puns and witty banter seem an omen to much more dry humor to come, and to some that's what will happen. As I said earlier I grew to enjoy the borderline silly humor though.
- One thing that did catch my eye was the way Leone and Falchion solve the various trials in the Ordeal, or at least the ones they are able to solve. I'm not saying they walk in and walk out of each trail, but the solutions come a little easier. This is definitely a small note and when you read this story you'll see what I mean.
Overall I'm going to give this story a 8/10 based on:
9/10 for readability - As I mentioned earlier the transitions in this story are incredibly smooth, combine those transitions with good writing and it creates one of the most readable stories I've read so far.
8/10 for characters - Besides the praise I've already given to the main characters, the ancillary characters you meet throughout Leone's journey are wonderfully done. Each one has his/her own personality that you find yourself falling in love with the wide range of characters.
8/10 for story - The story behind Legends of Leone is a wonderful beginning to what I'm sure is going to be many great stories from this world and characters in general. The story takes races from classic fantasy epics, such as dwarfs, elves, orcs, etc and spins them in their own way that separates them from their classic fantasy brethren.
8/10 for humor - The x-factor for me in this story is the humor aspect. From the unexpected spell mishaps to the puns, to the quick witted comments during dire situations the story really keeps you chuckling throughout. The ease with which the humor is presented is the best part of this particular category.
A big thank you to M. G. Dekle for contacting me about this story, and a big apology for getting it out later than I had originally intended. I will be back on track after the next review, and will be going to Sunday's only for my reviews.
If you'd like to pick up a copy of Legends of Leone click here.