This was an unusual fantasy book, unusual in a good way. After reading Lalonde’s Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0, and admitting that the fantasy genre was my favorite, he kindly pointed me in the direction of his other work, a fantasy book he had written called Brightwill. I was immediately excited, not only had I found a very nice author who clearly spends a lot of time communicating with his fans, but I also had a new fantasy book to read!
Prepare to delve right into a fantasy world, filled with magic, elves and… I can already hear you sighing. Stop right there. This is not your typical fantasy book. Randolph Lalonde has completely refashioned the tall pale elves as we know them from Lord of The Rings and other such works. Lalonde has created new elves, giving us different races and putting a new spin on pretty much all of the classical fantasy species.(Warning, I have to go into detail here as there is a lot of terminology, including names of races and names of wars, cities, etc. I will try not to give away any major spoilers -C.L.)
Elves in Brightwill are known as Ondi, Ava-Ondi are Sky Elves and more like the classical Elves, and Ondi-Ne can only be described as Hobbit-sized Elves. Both have magical abilities and talents, however the Ondi-Ne were originally woodland dwellers and the Ava-Ondi lived mainly in cities. There are also Dwarves/Cave Children/Mountain Folk who are slightly taller than the Ondi-Ne with more compact muscle. The Dwarves also have magical abilities and come from a land faraway from Brightwill, across what is known as the Void Sea. There are Dragonling’s, Groups of Warriors and Knights, and of course humans, and wizards, all of which have magical abilities to varying degrees.
The backstory for Brightwill states that the Ava-Ondi ruled over the land with enslaved Dragons, and they ruled over humans and all other races. The humans didn’t like the way they were being treated by the Ava-Ondi, so eventually there was an uprising which became known later as the Liberation War. During this war nearly all the Ava-Ondi were wiped out and a large portion of Ondi-Ne were killed too, purely because they were practitioners of magic like the Ava-Ondi, and too similar to the Ava-Ondi in the eyes of man.
However, where the Ava-Ondi come across as cold, cruel and detached, the Ondi-Ne are their opposites. Naze, our main male protagonist is an Ondi-Ne with incredible magical talents. The story is set around Naze as an older Ondi-Ne looking back on the events of his life. There have been many wars since Naze’s youth, and in that time he has built Amber Refuge as a stronghold to protect the last few Ondi-Ne, Dwarves and even humans.
This book is broken up into alternating chapters of older Naze and younger Naze, as the older Naze tells the story of his life to everyone at Amber Refuge. Younger Naze and his brother Riv, lived in a time after the Liberation War, where Humans ruled over the land, and where the ‘Treble Law’ prevented any Ondi-Ne from having written magical material, magical instruments, or a blade longer than the palm of their hand.
The brothers lived in the poorest district (slums) of the Capital City Ankon, in the Kingdom of Rasson. Ondi-Ne were treated badly by most of the humans and seen as little more than street urchins. Ondi-Ne struggled to earn enough to feed themselves, and were forced to make homes from human trash. However as much as Naze is telling the story of his youth, his story is really about his brother Riv and how he was wrongly accused of crimes he never committed. Older Naze is desperate to rewrite his brother’s history and as it is his birthday, he believes the right time to tell the truth is now.
Riv is a delightful character. Where Naze is sensible and careful, Riv is stubborn, cheeky and hotheaded. Unsurprisingly it is Riv that ends up in trouble, and this leads to a series of events that ultimately causes disaster and devastation across Brightwill. (I can’t really say much more without giving the story away -C.L.) I also liked Oroza the young dragonling, again Lalonde has created a different sort of dragonling here, Oroza is very little and can talk. There were some humorous and entertaining sections between Oroza, Riv and Naze.
Brightwill is told from the first person, which is why this fantasy is unusual. The overall style of the writing is good, and the story, albeit a little slow to get into, is written well. Descriptions are good, I could picture the character and settings well, but a map would have been handy at the beginning of this book, along with a list of terminology and species. As the reader you are throw into the story, so have to go with the flow, and details emerge slowly, like puzzle pieces, as the chapters progress. It wasn’t until the end of this book that I truly understood what was going on, so do not put this book down because you’re feeling lost and confused, my advice is to keep going!
The ending is surprising, as much as the story hinted throughout that something big was going to happen, I did not expect that, so well done Lalonde. It put a real twist on the whole story and simultaneously rounded off the story and leaves you on a bit of a strange cliffhanger. However, it is perfect for this book! There are also some nice little illustrations of some of the characters at the end of this ebook, and I believe there are more illustrations in the paperback version.
I really did like this story a lot, although it took some perseverance. My only wish is that Lalonde writes more about Brightwill, particularly about The Liberation War, and perhaps in third person as opposed to first? I also hope Lalonde writes a story about Naze, of what happened in between his youth and his older years? Prequels, lots and lots of prequels! Pleeeassseeeee. I definitely recommend this book for the fantasy lovers out there looking for something different, but don’t expect an easy read, you have to pay attention to this story but it is well worth it!
There are not that many reviews for Brightwill at the moment so the next section is a little sparse, so get reading guys and share your thoughts!
From The Current Reviews:
The Good: ‘Enjoyable, fast read. It definitely gained momentum as it went. I will be looking forward to the next journey with anticipation.’, ‘Delving into the world of Elves and magic this is a masterwork that keeps the reader hooked and wanting more. Great stuff.‘, ‘Another excellent story by Randolph Lalonde, kept me interested right to the end. I hope this is the start of another great series.‘, ‘Another great read from Randolph Lalonde, this time a fantasy outing‘, ‘Very good book – Bit of a slow burner but overall very very enjoyable‘, ‘This is well written’, ‘The characterisation, locale and story are all very well realized’, ‘An interesting and very different novel’.
The Bad: ‘If I had a criticism, it would be that some of the back story was skipped over’.
The Darn Right Ugly: ‘I am sooooooo saddened by this terrible book. It hurts me to say that because the other ten or so books that I have read from Lalonde have been amazing.’
The Unicorns: ‘Made for a very good read, with a change from Science Fiction to Fantasy by the author. Looking forward to the sequel, and if it is not currently planned perhaps it ought to be.’
Release date: 7th November 2014
Age Range: 13+
Contains: Some violence.
About The Book: Brightwill, a land razed by war, on the verge of utter destruction. There are few strongholds left, and few leaders who have the vision and the power to protect their people.
Naze Kinu, the Great Wizard provides a stronghold for the most talented young and old people in the lands. The Amber Refuge is his life’s work, a central stronghold built by his comrades, his power and his reputation.
That is why, when he tells his long time aide, Doril, that he intends to tell all about his secret sibling, Riv, his intentions are met with alarm. Naze kept his relation to Riv a secret for half a century. Riv, known in legend as the Slasher Goblin, the Prince Slayer, and the thief of the Enduring Light.
Despite the damage his revelation could do to his reputation, Naze is set on telling the true story of his brother, of the days that inspired the legend. Most of those close to him are left to wonder why, and to listen as their leader regales them with the tale of his misadventures with his brother and Oroza, the dragonling.
This is the story of Naze and the brother he can no longer deny this is the story of Brightwill in times of drastic change.
Where to Buy?
Amazon: Kindle Ed, free. Paperback, £7.99.
He completed writing his first novel in the fantasy adventure genre at the age of fifteen and has been writing ever since.
He self published his first novel;
Fate Cycle: Sins of the Past in 2004 and after taking a break has begun to release his work again starting with the First Light Chronicles series.
Randolph Lalonde has sold thousands of eBooks to date, enough to keep writing full time. He is deeply grateful for his following of readers and strives to improve his skills to better entertain them. The Spinward Fringe Space Opera series has proven to be his most popular offering.
He currently resides in Sudbury Ontario and manages a chapter a day writing habit.
In his diminishing spare time he reads voraciously, tinkers with design, video editing and reviews the occasional film or television show. A science fiction and fantasy fan, he often comments on the state of the entertainment industry on his website.
Check out my other book review for this author, Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0.
Disclaimer: The reviews and opinions above are either from online sources or my own, and have been collaborated together for the ease and benefit of potential new readers. All ratings have been collected from the date of this blog’s publishing and will potentially change in the future.