A journey through haunted forests, through dreams and time.
A story of love, magic and the power of forgiveness.
A Tzanatzi outcast and an Einache shaman are on the trail of an ancient curse.
Will they save their people from destruction?
Rom, a half-blood Tzanatzi outcast is persuaded by Yldich, a stranger he meets on the road to accompany him to his home in the High North. Yldich turns out to be an Einache shaman and an important spiritual leader for his people.
An unknown evil is threatening the land of the Einache. It has its origins in the war between the Einache and Tzanatzi five hundred years ago. Yldich is convinced he needs Rom to avert the imminent menace because Rom can relive the past by dreamwalking.
The journey is fraught with hazards: a cruel noble with a grudge against Rom, spirits from the past that intrude upon the present and the lurking shadow of an entity known as the Tahiéra. At the same time, a deep friendship develops between the men, whose ancestors once were bitter enemies.
When Rom meets Yldich’s spirited daughter Maetis he finds love for the first time in his life. But as Rom is pulled into a state of dreamwalking more and more often, past and present come together and ultimately collide when the Tahiéra rises again and the army of the southern King closes in on the Einache.
There is only one way to prevent war from destructing them all. Rom will have to journey to the Underworld to face the source of the Tahiéra.
Dead silence spanned the plain. They came with the failing of the light. Their slender swords gleamed silver in the pale light of the moon. On the other side of the plain young, inexperienced hands clutched their swords, and old men held their breath. A dark horror crept over the battlefield and smothered everything in its path.
A dark figure stood at the top of the cliff. The wind lifted strands of midnight hair. They floated about his head as if they had a life of their own. He steadied himself and drew his sword. His voice was a whisper.
Captivating from beginning to end
Though much of it takes place in a physical world of forests and stones, the real story of Gillissen's protagonists, Rom, Yldich, and Eald who journey through enchanted lands northward, is one of kinship and illusion as they struggle to save their people from the destructive power of an entity known as the Tahiera. Gillissen uses dreams the way that an artist might use watercolors to paint a vivid portrait. Her expressions are at once clear and beautiful as they are abstract and distant, eventually culminating in an ending revelation that is unforeseeable (unless, of course, you’ve "dreamwalked" through the story already).
Rom is haunted by "enthemae" dreams, or dreams of his past which reveal a power in him to confront the Tahiera. As he learns these things throughout his journey, he becomes acquainted with "ayurdimae" dreaming, or "dreamwalking". "Curse of the Tahiera" is full of mystical enchantments and riveting adventures, but it’s these particular facets which make it different from most other fantasy novels. Gillissen creates a dream world within a dream world; worlds inside of other worlds which are constantly in motion. It might seem complicated, but Gillissen handles them all like a well trained juggler, and the show is spectacular.
The only small caveat to "Curse of the Tahiéra" are the bevy of terms which are constantly used by her characters and can be difficult to discern, especially when some of them are as similar as "ayurdimae" (which means "dreamwalking") and "Alyurimae" (which means "take him away"). Gillissen seems to have recognized this, and offers a handy glossary to make it easier, but looking up terms seems more like work than fun. Still, this never bogs down the novel to the point where it becomes a major issue, and definitely doesn’t get in the way of Gillissen's flair for fantasy.
"Curse of the Tahiéra" achieves on nearly every level of excitement and entertainment that the genre of fantasy prescribes. It's enlightening in its connection with real world values of love, honor, and camaraderie and on top of that, its great entertainment. Gillissen's take on pixies, beasts, and other common fantasy figures is unique and revitalizing. Fantasy novels are all about the journey, and Gillissen is able to weave several into a single amazing voyage that is captivating from beginning to end.
A magical journey
"Dead silence spanned the plain. They came with the failing of the light. Their slender swords gleamed silver in the pale light of the moon. On the other side of the plain young, inexperienced hands clutched their swords, and old men held their breath. A dark horror crept over the battlefield and smothered everything in its path.
A dark figure stood at the top of the cliff. The wind lifted strands of midnight hair. They floated about his head as if they had a life of their own. He steadied himself and drew his sword. His voice was a whisper. Now." (Prologue)
So begins Wendy Gillissen's "Curse of the Tahiera," a fascinating and entertaining spiritual adventure. The two main characters in the book, Rom, a Tzanatzi outcast, and Yldich, an Einache shaman, are on the trail of an ancient curse in an attempt to save their people. The magical journey that they embark on will definitely captivate your attention from start to finish.
Sometimes I find books in the fantasy genre to be confusing and overcomplicated, but Gillissen's novel does not fall into that realm. I found her story easy to read and follow. The only part that could have been difficult would have be in attempting to figure out what the terms meant that were written in the Eincache and Tzanatzi languages. However, to avoid that problem the author included two handy reference guides in the back of the book translating both "Einache words and expressions" and "Tzanatzi words and expressions." I thought these were very helpful in aiding my comprehension of the story and didn't mind flipping back to them to help translate.
I recommend "Curse of the Tahiera" to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels. Gillissen's book is very original and refreshing. Her writing flows smoothly and at a wonderfully engaging pace. I am definitely looking forward to reading the sequel to this first work which should be coming out at the end of this year!
In the beginning, we meet Rom, a half-blood Tzanatzi outcast young man of nineteen. From the lack of true nurturing from his mother, as she feared him and his nightmares as many came true; daily abuse from a Lord he is assigned to serve; to just learning to fend for himself, survive and lay low from the Lord's men; it is safe to say Rom can represent something in all of us.
While Rom prepares to leave for a journey to sell his goods he encounters a middle-aged man named Yldich, an Einache "yaever", or dream walker, whom warns him of trouble on his route to the north. While Rom is not too thrilled for the company as he has always preferred to be alone in his life and travels, he does end up with Yldich's company for his trip.
On their way North, we discover there is more to Yldich's reason for `dreaming' of Rom, as this was his original reason for finding him. This reason slowly unfolds, as Rom learns more of Yldich. More importantly, Rom begins to learn who he is as his true background was lost to him. Rom starts his journey as friendless, distrustful, temperamental, shy, and fearful. He finds himself in a few life endangering situations, where his new companion rescues him and he slowly learns to trust in his new friend. He gains self-confidence and self-esteem and learns to open himself by allowing the good to come in, even though he feels he is tainted, even 'evil'.
When Yldich's home, `The House of the Deer' faces adversity, the story is full of action, suspense, camaraderie and meaning, especially when Rom faces his personal demons in the Underworld and barely makes it back alive. The Einache are surrounded by the South Army for holding Rom in their home, but a darker presence from an ancient curse threatens each and every one of them. Rom learns "If you acknowledge all that is in you, if you embrace it all, even the fear, the shame, the pain, then there's nothing to be afraid of. Not even death, then you're ready to fight."