||May 1, 2008
Barnes & Noble.com
Tales Touched by Magick
With the help of an elder wizard, and the sorceresses B’rma and N’dia, the dragonspawn and Cwen of Aaradan embark on an epic journey to undo the folly of a god.
A murderous queen:
Bound in mortal flesh by an angry god, a once ethereal nymph murders Quondam’s king and seizes the throne. All who do not bow before her die in the agony that is dragons’ breath. But, there is threat of a challenger to this brutal reign, a legend’s promised savior. Fearful, Queen Karid has the suspect captured, condemned and sentenced to an eternity alone.
A condemned dragonspawn:
Born of man and magick, cursed at birth by his terrified mother, a young Dragonspawn is branded a demon, a threat to Quondam’s queen, and sentenced to a millennium of solitude. His only freedom now found in dreams, he searches among a universe of sleepers for a woman born beneath the sign of the dragon, a woman believed to hold the key to his release.
And the woman thrust between them:
Her family and homeland destroyed by an otherworldly assassin’s fire, Cwen of Aaradan, niece of the Dragon Queen, escapes through a mysterious portal into Quondam. There, Cwen discovers her fate and an imprisoned dragonspawn’s are intertwined in ways that will drag her, heartbroken and vengeful, into the midst of a devastating war.
With the help of an elder wizard, and the sorceresses B’rma and N’dia, the dragonspawn and Cwen of Aaradan embark on an epic journey to undo the folly of a god, stop the mad nymph queen, and return peace and magick to a war torn world.
Cwen woke from her dream of the hooded man with a pounding headache and the coppery taste of blood in her mouth. She tried to rise, crying out at the blinding pain and gut-wrenching nausea that threatened to overwhelm her. Without lifting her head, she took quick, shallow breaths, swallowed the bitter taste of bile, and opened her eyes to find feet—gray, three-toed, and filthy—standing inches from her face.
“Stryvers,” explained a cool feminine voice.
Cwen rolled her eyes in an attempt to view the speaker, but whoever it was stood behind her, out of range.
“They are stryvers—I believe you would call them ‘slaves’ in your language. Have you come alone?”
Cwen remained silent.
“Are there others? It is not safe for foreigners to wander alone beyond the city walls. It is a wasteland filled with Queen Karid’s warring tribes, and our control of the stryvers loses potency outside the walls. Sometimes they revert to more barbaric behaviors when left to themselves. Did you come alone?”
With great effort, and without lifting herself from the ground, Cwen forced her body backward and stared up at her inquisitor. The woman was as ripe as a young goddess and tall, easily eight spans. Beautiful, curvaceous, and perfectly proportioned, her exposed arms and thighs were well muscled, and her flawless skin was deep golden brown with a patina that resembled the richly burnished dark oak of Yávië’s finest furniture. Her eyes were startlingly pale, the blue of a fair-haired child, and while the sides of her head were hairless, a mane of thick black hair ran from high at the center of her brow to the base of her spine. Gleaming gold tattoos covered the left side of her bare, silken scalp.
“I asked if you have come alone. The longer you delay your answer, the more danger to any companions.”
“Who are you?” Cwen croaked.
The woman’s lips curved in a smile, revealing perfect teeth. “I am a Noor. And, this is Quondam.”
Midwest Book Review
The fourth and final installment of the "Ancient Mirrors" fantasy series has arrived with "Quondam". The "Ancient Mirrors" series is a line of stories where women do not submit helplessly before men; "Quondam" is no different, following Cwen as she finds herself in another world whose problems will engulf her own world unless she does something to stop it. She must overthrow a Queen to save both worlds in this riveting fantasy. A must for community library collections dedicated to the genre.
Avid video gamers tend to gravitate towards story lines that are action packed, are believable or as such bring strong magical realism to the games. Movies based on games such as Lara Croft, Resident Evil etc have been box office hits. The influence of video gaming has not only heavily influenced contemporary literature especially in the Scifi and Magic genres but have also reflected the strong feminist presence in modern times.
Take for example Jayel Gibson's book- Quondam which happens to be the last of the four part series of The Ancient Mirror Series has strong female characters. The main character Cwen finds herself falling through a portal to a world devastated by the cruelty of a nymph of the woods who is cursed to live in the flesh and becomes a cruel queen driven to destroy magic and extends her rule over mankind and only through Cwen can the world be saved. A lot rides on her shoulders and the other female characters in the novel are as strong in Cwen in spirit and in magic.
The feminist tone in the book is strong as it is in the gaming world where the women fight shoulder to shoulder with their male warriors. And like the characters in video games the women in Jayel Gibson's book are beautiful, feminine and yet burn with fierce inner spirit.
What makes this book a novelty is that Jayel Gibson is herself a gamer and believes that video gaming is actually good for people. And her books prove her opinion as the characters are complex, their missions difficult and the storyline is action packed. The books are immersing and deal with human frailties as well which not only hooks the readers but also lend the story lines credibility for in the end its not only about good winning over evil but about the indomitable human spirit - a concept that many games are based on where one continues to try and overcome hurdles and conquer missions despite repeated failures.
Jayel Gibson's novels are well written, refreshing and are light read.
It was such a pleasure to be able to get my hands on the latest edition in the "Ancient Mirrors Tale" series by Jayel Gibson. "Quondam" begins when the evil Queen Karid sends a fire-breathing assassin through a magical portal, into another world, to destroy people whom she fears are a danger to her. Karid's ordered assassination attempts pull two women through the portal into Quondam. One of them is Cwen. She holds a special power to link her to the Dragon spawn. This is a half man/half dragon being that has been held in exile on an island for over a thousand years. Queen Karid's attempts to fight the prophecy that links Cwen to D'raekn, the dragon spawn, only manage to push them together.
When Cwen manages to end up on D'raekn's island of imprisonment, she appears to have been beaten to death. Followers of the queen have horribly violated her. Believing her to be dead, she is dumped into the sea and rescued by mere folk. D'raeken plays a role in her healing. Having been emotionally broken by her abusers, he also has to gain her trust. An intimate moment between the two begins awakening the dormant magical powers of the land. Previously the queen tried to kill off all the magical beings and hold any powers for herself. Now the land is awakening, and so are many of the magical inhabitants who have kept themselves hidden.
D'raekn and Cwen must work together to see that the prophecies come true. Having people that they believe to be their allies, working against them for their own selfish reasons, works against them. More mysteries surrounding D'raekn must be solved for them to find the answers that they seek.
I really, truly loved this story and hated to see "Quondam" end. The magical elements add so much to the story. The feelings between D'raekn and Cwen are tumultuous and in need of some answers. The history behind the prophecy of the dragon spawn was fascinating and unique. Ultimately, this being, which was brought about in a unique manner, has to decide whether or not to choose to be a man or a dragon. Others decide that his love for Cwen must not get in the way of his decision. They have a lot working against them, yet through it all, their love has to prevail. Fans of fantasy novels will love "Quondam." Readers who have been following the other books in the Ancient Mirrors Tale series will not be disappointed.
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