||September 1, 2006
Barnes & Noble.com
The Ancient Mirrors legend continues in this sequel to Dragon Queen. In The Wrekening, an ancient evil is discovered lying deep beneath the earth, waiting to be awakened by those possessing the Wreken wyrm shards.
In The Wrekening, an ancient evil is discovered lying deep beneath the earth, waiting to be awakened by those possessing the Wreken wyrm shards. The Dragon Queen of Aedracmorae and her Guardians realize the shards must be recovered before they fall into the wrong hands—they turn to Cwen of Aaradan, fierce warrior and estranged daughter of the Guardian Nall. Cwen reluctantly agrees, and she and her band of renegades set off on a perilous quest to reclaim the lost shards.Cwen’s male companions, Talin, Caen, and Brengven the Feie wizard, journey with her on an adventure that tests both strength and honor. Cwen, who submits to no man, is endlessly pursued by Caen, a thief by trade who truly cares for her. However, Cwen’s own inner-demons prove more difficult to overcome than any dragon or thralax creature the group of friends encounter. In this tale of magick, adventure, romance and deceit, the fate of Aedracmorae hangs in the balance.
In the den of the thralax:
Cwen regained consciousness in dim torchlight and reached for weapons that were no longer there. Her captor sat across from her, an immense man-shaped creature covered in fine, pale hair. Its eyes glittered as it raised its face to gaze across the wide cavern at its newly acquired meal. The face was hideous, flattened and slightly blue; the flesh of its forehead was loose and fell in folds across the heavy brow. Two large openings served as a nose, the surrounding area moist and glistening in the flickering firelight. A gaping mouth held large canines that extended beyond loose and flabby lips.
“I’ll not eat you until the morrow, for I am full from feasting on the dead. Most men wish to spend their last hours talking to their gods,” the deep voice explained in a matter of fact manner.
“I have no gods,” Cwen responded, examining the creature more closely. The muscular arms ended in three fingered hands with opposing thumbs. The digits ended in blunt black nails, not claws that could rip and tear.
The creature licked blood from its lips and tossed the slender forearm bone it had used to clean between its teeth into the pile at the edge of the room. Cwen’s eyes rested on the pile of clean white bones bare of any flesh. “Have you no soul?” the beast asked, the flesh of its brow forming a ‘v’ as it frowned.
“Of course I have a soul, but it is not burdened by the superstitions of the timid,” Cwen answered, looking around for an exit. The only openings were in the walls near the ceiling—large enough for a man’s passage but far too high to reach. Along the walls rested piles of bones and treasures carefully separated by kind. Long bones, skulls, vertebrae, and short bones—all carefully sorted and stacked. Rings, cups, medallions, books, staffs, lule, and weapons rested in their individual lots.
The creature cocked its head as Cwen eyed the stock of weapons. “While I prefer my meat fresh I can also eat it slightly ripened. The choice is yours.”
Cwen laughed in spite of her growing fear, “I shall choose life until the morrow and then I shall make you work for your meal.”
A coarse laugh came from deep within the beast’s gullet. “You are not like most men. They cower and beg, offering great riches if I will only spare their lives.”
“I am not a man,” Cwen spoke truthfully. “And my life is not of suffcient value that I would be forced to beg to save it.”
The beast gave another low laugh. “And you hope that the two men creeping through my tunnels will reach you before you become my excrement.”
Cwen grimaced at the unpleasant thought.
“Your companions will wander in search of you for days, lost among the passageways. Eventually I will prey upon them as I hunger, for I have found that men offer little challenge to a hunting thralax.”
“It is obvious that you are thoughtful, and aware that men are as well. How is it that you eat others…”
“Who are self-aware?” the thralax finished her thought as another bout of laughter shook him. “I learned from men. Are they not the ones who hunt the dragons, the Equus, and the Great Wyrms who live below the earth? Do they not kill and skin us for our scales and hides and shards? They even defile their own kind, for I have seen it in their camps. At least there is purpose to my killing. Are you not the one who killed Fa’ell and his soldiers as they slept?”
“We kill to avoid being killed or to defend the defenseless. We are not murderers.”
“No, you are merely food,” replied the thralax with a sigh. “If you do not wish to pray to the gods of men, perhaps you could remain silent so that I might rest.” The great creature gave her one last look before closing its eyes as if in sleep.
Cwen stood and wandered around the large cavern, examining the treasures that lay against the walls. She ran her finger along the blade of a long sword, glancing over her shoulder to see the thralax watching her with one open eye. Shrugging, she moved on to a pile of rings, lifting them and placing them one by one on her fingers. At least she would die well adorned. The pile of lauds was quickly pilfered and she filled her pockets with the coins. At the small pile of books she sat down and pulled one onto her lap. It was a book of tallies, sales, and purchases from some bookkeeper who had become excrement. The thought brought a shudder. Next was a journal kept by a poacher, a list of Equus and dragon deaths so long she was grateful to know he was dead. A tightly rolled scroll caught her eye and she untied the leather binding. Carefully unrolling the parchment she frowned at the long rows of symbols—symbols she had seen before on the surface of the G’lm’s shields in the cavern below Révere. Looking toward her captor she saw that he was wide awake and watchful.
“Property of one who escaped my digestion,” the thralax said quietly, pointing to the scroll she held. “A good tale if you should choose to hear it.”
“I have nothing else to fill the hours until my death,” Cwen said, turning to face the storyteller.
“I knocked him from the back of a dark dragon—a tall man, pale and nearly hairless. He wore the cloak of a wizard and attempted to kill me with bolts of magickal lightning. Obviously, he failed.” The beast laughed at his own cleverness. “I dragged him here and tied him with the wizard binding chains because he would not abide by the rule regarding weapons. He struggled and fought until he was covered in blood. The scent of it brought me great pangs of hunger even though I had recently fed. As I removed his chains and drew him forward to be devoured, he screamed words I could not understand and disappeared in a .ash of blue light. The heat of his magick left me this.” The thralax turned his face to the light showing a deep scar running from the corner of his mouth to his left ear. “I have promised myself if I ever catch him again, I will eat him while he is still chained.”
Drawing the small disc she had retrieved from Caen, Cwen held it up. “I also possess the unknown words.”
Moving swiftly for one so large, the thralax leapt across the distance that separated them and grabbed Cwen’s wrists in one great hand, quickly wrapping her in the coils of the wizard’s chain he kept on his belt. Drawing a hefty lock he snapped the ends of the chain together and dropped her to the ground. With the grimace that passed for a smile he reminded her, “Then I will eat you while you are still chained.”
Cwen lay silent, awaiting the sleep of her captor. As she saw his head fall forward onto his chest and heard the deep snores of his slumber, she touched the small pouch that rested against her heart and with her thoughts used her gift to meld into the links of the wizard’s chain, leaving nothing visible but empty coils.
Ian McCurley, Reader Views
"The Wrekening" begins as the Feie named Brengven is searching for a meal and stumbles upon a cavern full of demonic stone soldiers. Opening a rift, he hurries to the fortress of the House of Aaradan where Yavie, the Dragon Queen, and her husband Sorel live with Yavie's Guardians. Hearing the news of the discovery of the army and using the knowledge of the Ancient wizard, Grumblton, they decide that something must be done to collect and destroy the Wreken Shards, the heart shards of the Wreken Wyrms, or stubstrata dragons. Knowing that sending guardians would draw too much attention, they call upon the help of Nall and Naere's estranged daughter, Cwen and her friend Talin. At first they refuse, but Brengven, who was sent to convince them, finally succeeds after Caen, who has been good-naturedly stalking Cwen, gets shot by her. The Feie uses Caen, who is somewhat of a rogue, to convince her by saying that he will take Caen on the quest and that she is too weak to complete the quest. In the end, all three of them accompany Brengven. Several days later, they are traveling through Spire Canyon when Cwen is captured by the Thralax, an intelligent, gorilla-like monster. Just as Cwen is escaping on her own, Caen and Talin come to rescue her and nearly kill the Thralax. Cwen saves it by way of a blood oath, and it is forever sworn to protect her. She steals its vast wealth and continues towards the first of the 13 Wreken Shards. After Cwen and her group have collected the first and several other Wreken Shards, they get news that one town has already been attacked by a dark army set free from an underground cavern by an evil enchantress. When Nall comes to tell them to "speed up", he is nearly killed by Cwen, but nevertheless, they hasten in their task as more armies are awakened and more towns are destroyed. As Caen tries to worm his way into Cwen's heart, Klaed, the son of a councilman who like Cwen and Talin refused to be guardians, shows up and vies for Cwen's affections. Can Cwen and her friends recover and destroy all the Wreken Shards before Aedracmorae is destroyed?
In this second book of the Ancient Mirror series, Jayel Gibson not only writes well, but also draws the reader in to this mesmerizing story. "The Wrekening" is a book for teens that would enjoy reading about fantasy, dragons and dark armies.
Harriet Klausner, Amazon.com
Niece to the Dragon Queen Yavie and daughter of one of the Guardians, Cwen of Aaradan is estranged from her family as they condemn her as evil for having been captured and raped by their enemies. She, in turn, rejects anything related to her heritage even the magic she can employ as she leaves her home behind.
However, her Aunt the Queen is worried with open hostilities already killing many. Yavie has learned that the enemy is plotting to gather the thirteen ancient crystal shards invented by the Wyrms that are scattered throughout their world. Though created by the ancient and long since vanished Wyrms to protect the world from evil; the plot calls for using the crystal to raise an invincible unit of underground stone soldiers. The Queen sends her niece and four companions (Talin, Caen, Brengven and Klaed) to prevent that from happening.
On the surface , THE WREKENING will sound somewhat similar to the Tolkien tales (which in turn paid homage to Beowulf), but has a freshness of its own due to the heroine, who leads her band on the quest, while coming of age during the adventure. Cwen makes the tale as, in spite of loathing her mother Nall who condemns her as being weak and her people who assume she is tainted, she accepts her Aunt Yavie's mission to save their world. Her fellow travelers are fully developed and in subtler ways coming of age too especially her best friend Talin. Fantasy readers will appreciate this fine Ancient Mirrors saga.
IP Book Reviews
When I was younger and first became an avid fantasy reader, I came up with a system for detecting good epic fantasy. I called it "Tom's Epic Fantasy Detection Test." No, I didn't need to read the first thirty pages nor did I have to read the little blurp on the back cover. All I felt I had to do was look at the front of the book for maps and at the back for a glossary of terms. My thinking back then was: if a book has both of these, then I'm in business.
What I didn't realize was that I was really making a judgment on the depth of the world the author had created. I wanted something as real as my world--a place that I could see so clearly that I wished I could get aboard a plane and go visit it. The world Jayel Gibson has created in The Wrekening certainly passed this test. It is one that is complex, startling, and a true work of the highest imagination.
The Wrekening focuses most of its action around a trio of characters. Cwen is the leader of the group. Though she is stubborn and hot-headed on the outside, she harbors much inner pain and has more than her share of demons to exorcise. Talin, her best friend, is the perfect complement to Cwen. He is the voice of calm guidance throughout the novel and pretty good with a battle-axe too. And, of course, there is the rogue, Caen, who is a walking enigma: sometimes you hate him, sometimes you love him.
Together these three (plus their tag-along companion Brengven) must complete a quest to keep a powerful army of stones warriors, frozen since the creation of their world, from falling into the hands of evil. To do so they must overcome obstacles with not only the sharpness of their swords, but a sharpness of their wits as well. Each puzzle piece they find pushes them farther and farther toward their goal and ever closer to danger. In accepting this mission they will achieve one of two things: the status of immortal heroes if they succeed or the destruction of the world if they fail.
It is these high stakes, placed in a wonderfully created world filled with life-like characters, which makes The Wrekening a great book. With each turn of the page the reader is asking, "What will happen next?"
For me, the part I loved the most was the way the characters unfolded as the novel progressed. Every time I thought I'd made up my mind about Cwen, Caen, or Talin some new development or slight twist pulled the rug out from under me, making me think a little more about them. What did happen to Cwen in the past? Is Caen truly this way? Is Talin as calm as he seems? Jayel Gibson creates these characters so well one can't help but fall for them.
Another great aspect is that The Wrekening can have a very large range of readers, both young adult and adult. Due to the creativity of the world, the depth of the characters, and the quality of the writing any adult reader would be more than happy with this book. Yet, because of Jayel Gibson's ability to write about love without getting into sex, and since the fight scenes are filled with action and suspense without gory violence, a younger reader would find this book just as appealing. Truly The Wrekening is a book for all ages.
For these reasons and many others I highly recommend The Wrekening to anyone who loves a good fantasy story.
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