Escape from Arylon by Jo Whittemore © 2006

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    Escape from Arylon  by  Jo Whittemore  © 2006   Llewellyn  ISBN  0-7387-0869-0                 355 pages            Paperback        $8.95 (U.S.)  $11.95 (Canada)

    This is the start of a new trilogy from Llewellyn (The Silverskin Legacy).  Its protagonists are a pair of young folks (Megan Haney and Ainsley Minky) who are completing their freshman year in high school.  Former friends, their relationship has been strained for a few years and they aren’t quite sure how they feel about each other.  Unlike many series for pre- and early-teens this one has a bit of an edge.  The language is a bit grittier (at one point early on Megan tells Ainsley to “Piss off.”).  Somehow, it makes it seem a bit more believable.

    They are transported from Earth to the continent of Arylon on the world of Sunil (a fantasy world in turmoil).  Someone has stolen the Staff of Lexiam and its misuse (or improper control) could result in untold devastation.  Megan (a less-than-beautiful girl) and Ainsley (a movie-star-handsome boy) bring disparate skills to their stay on Arylon.  She is a skilled fencer.  He is a skilled martial artist.

    Ms. Whittemore has a wonderful way of describing scenes so that they come to life in the mind of the reader.  Her description of the main hall of the kingdom of Raklund is one example of this skill.  In the space of a single paragraph you begin to get a sense of the wonders which lie ahead for the two misplaced Earthlings.

    How would you react if, suddenly you found yourself a world away from your friends of family, in a culture totally alien to your own?  Then add in a few extra qualifiers, like dwarves, trolls, unicorns and magic.  And for a final twist, the knowledge that nothing you can do can get you back home.  Sounds like…an adventure, doesn’t it?  But is it one you will willingly undertake?  How about if you were a teenager?

    While this book is no Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter epic, it is an exciting story and one which is enjoyable by both young adult and adult readers.  There has been a spate of fantasy novels over the past few years.  Some of them have been, at best mediocre and some have been well-written tales.  This is one of the latter.  It is long enough to give time for the story to develop without being so long as to be daunting.  There are unfamiliar names and terms, but they are sprinkled throughout and do not overwhelm the reader.

    Of course it goes without saying that, like any introductory book to a trilogy, this volume leaves unanswered questions.  One should expect no less.  In spite of those unanswered questions this is a satisfying book.  It gives a good feel for the characters; develops the settings in an understandable manner; and leaves you waiting for the next book in the series.  It is thoroughly enjoyable and should find a place on your fantasy book shelf.


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