Though born to a noble maternal lineage, Sasha Varov lives in exile on a dangerous island. Her family faces constant threats from deadly weather and deadlier dragons. That family sends sixteen-year-old Sasha back to their beloved kingdom of Jaan to buy seeds. She stumbles into adventures and becomes an accidental legend, known as “Innocence.”
A year later, Sasha leaves her father and her gay brother protecting the other exiles while she returns to Jaan. She begins her journey, unaware that an old enemy has gained arcane powers, or that the people of Jaan expect her to defeat that enemy. With the help of an outcast, a mutant, and an aging but heroic lesbian couple, Innocence might prevail.
The Return of Innocence
The opening line, "The relentless wind whipped the sails as the shroud of darkness that sometimes entombed them began to return", is also a good hook to make this reader want more.
Follow the story of Sasha and her attempt to rescue Jaan. Can Sasha overcome her self-doubt? You’ll have to read the book for the subtle twists and turns, which I found enjoyable.
Duane and Toni’s style is almost poetic. In the opening line, the use of alliteration of the "w" sound in "wind whipped" describes the scene in a unique way. I might be biased towards poetry and its techniques, but I don’t think so. The characters are described well and are fleshed out. The dialogue is real and believable. This story flows and pulls the reader along well.
Duane received a PhD in English from Texas Tech University in 1996. He lives in Lubbock. He’s written The Acorn Series, Degranon, Holding Me Together and others. He donated his royalties from editing and co-writing The Acorn Gathering to the American Cancer Society.
Toni has written poetry, flash fiction. She has also written fan fiction based on an episode of a television series. She contributed details of settings, events and certain characters for this book. She lives in Chester, Virginia.
I was loath to put this book down once I started it. Not your typical swashbuckler. This one has magic and fantasy blended well. I also appreciate the authors including a glossary which helped with some of the terms in the book and further clarifying some aspects of the story. For lovers of fantasy and just a good book to read. I highly recommend The Return of Innocence.
Reviewer: Bob Medak, Allbooks Reviews.
Excellent Fantasy Adventure
In 'The Return of Innocence', Duane Simolke once again proves his writing mastery. Populated by at least two dozen characters, the story focuses on Sasha, a young female swordswoman, and her quest to destroy the evil Tay-lii. With well-fleshed out characters at her side, Sasha (or Innocence) goes on a classic fantasy adventure through the world of Theln, which exists right along the dimensional edge of another one of Duane's stories called 'Degranon'. So, along with his other offerings in the genre of contemporary fiction and sci-fi, Duane has produced this fantasy story; again proving his ability to write in any genre he needs.
To me, the mark of an excellent writer is the ability to write in a voice not his own - and to stay consistent in that character. Duane achieves that in spades by writing from the point of view of a young female warrior and taking it to its inevitable conclusion in 'The Return of Innocence'. Another mark of an excellent writer is the ability to shift genres when necessary to achieve an aim. I have read stories from three genres that Duane has written in and I've found them superb. This is an author you don't want to miss!
Reviewer: Mark Kendrick, author of Stealing Some Time.
The Return of Innocence Review
It isn't easy writing a fantasy/adventure novel. I say that from personal experience, having written several myself (under one pseudo or an other) and, each time, half way through (or even before that), realizing that I'd possibly bit off more than I could chew. It requires a good-good-good deal of imagination and concentration to construct, in literary format, a whole separate world/dimension, inhabited by places and characters that, more often than not, have nothing whatsoever to do with the universe in which you and I (AKA the reader) exist.
Unlike science-fiction which at least comes with some "scientific" parameters - an editor once having explained to me how a form-changer of mine simply couldn't stretch the laws of physics by converting into a shape containing more mass than the form-changer had in its original format - fantasy worlds come complete with defy-all-science dragons that breathe fire, wizards that turn base metal into gold, and magicians who can metamorphose flesh, or freeze-time, or transport from one phantasmal plane to another. In fantasy, there is always the fine line that has to be walked by an author, or his readers will sneer when they should be excited, will laugh when they should be frightened, will be distracted when they should be engrossed, will be so unable to associate with the worlds and characters created that they'll remain unbelievers from beginning to end and, thus, be excluded from the equation which should have included them from the get-go.
Luckily for fantasy fans, Duane Simolke in his new book (with Toni Davis), THE RETURN OF INNOCENCE spins an all-involving tale of fantasy worlds in turmoil, fratricidal wizards, deposed blood lines, Male versus Female, Good versus Evil, degradation versus Innocence ... dragons and spells running amuck ... that pulls in the reader as successfully as the sorcerer(s) of the story (more than one) cast spells to propel unlucky exiles through time and space.
Simolke, the author of the sci-fi DRAGANON and the editor of THE ACORN GATHERING (the latter's author royalties donated to the American Cancer Society - making it a should-be buy, even if it wasn't worth the price of admission), has once again proved himself an engrossingly successful story-teller, this time in a genre that many writers try to master but usually fail.
Reviewer: William Maltese, author BOND-SHATTERING, BEYOND MACHU, THAI DIED...et al.