Today I finished Beginning of a Hero by Charles E. Yallowitz, just in time to again encourage readers to take advantage of the book’s current FREE status.
Here’s the book description from Amazon:
Take a step into the magical world of Windemere where history is forged by brave adventurers.
Luke Callindor was born into Windemere’s most decorated family of adventurers. Since his birth, he has been treated with the greatest amount of respect and awe. Now, with a lifetime of training and the reckless cockiness of youth, Luke has set out to prove that he deserves the admiration that comes from being a Callindor.
Luke gets his chance when he convinces a royal messenger to hire him to protect the heir of Duke Solomon. This future leader is secretly attending Hamilton Military Academy, an esteemed school run by the former mercenary, Selenia Hamilton. It is a dangerous secret mission requiring that Luke pretend to be an average student while keeping an eye out for any sign of danger. Unfortunately, Luke has no idea which student the heir is and a demonic assassin is already several steps ahead of him. Finding himself in over his head and constantly in trouble, the young warrior realizes that the only things he has on his side are some new friends and his unwavering courage.
First, I must offer full disclosure. I am not a reader of fantasy. In my lifetime, I might have read one or two books (not counting Beginning of a Hero) that are considered fantasy. So why did I pick this one up? Well, I learned about Beginning of a Hero (and more specifically, The Legends of Windemere series) by reading Yallowitz’s blog. If you’ve never read fantasy fiction, but you’re curious, you’re game to try something new, and yet still hesitant to download his book, then visit his blog at http://www.legendsofwindemere.com. Charles Yallowitz is a very generous writer: he posts excerpts from his books so you can get a feel for whether you want to read more. Well, I started following his blog and decided that I wanted to read more. And I have not been disappointed.
Since I’m not familiar with the fantasy genre, I won’t be comparing Yallowitz’s work to that of any other fantasy authors. I can only offer you my “uneducated in the fantasy genre” opinion. I found Beginning of a Hero to be great fun. Yes, it was FUN! Luke Callindor is an imperfect hero, the best kind for entertaining reading. Beginning of a Hero is sort of a coming-of-age novel in that Callindor has to face challenges in order to grow up and fulfill his destiny. His challenges threaten his life but also his ego as he both tries to live up the Callindor name and yet assert his own identity. The novel has a crazy cast of dwarves, haltings (half-elves), demons, the undead, giants, and drites, to name a few. Magic is literally everywhere. Potions are magic, weapons are magic, spells are magic. And yet no one form of magic can keep evil entirely at bay.
I am impressed with the character development in this novel. Callindor goes from being a cocky forest tracker to a more thoughtful and tested warrior. Selenia at first rules with an iron fist but learns to slacken her grasp in favor of trusting those who are in her trust. Callindor’s companions—Fritz, Nimby, and Aedyn—find themselves becoming more dependent on each other as they help each other through battles and in their efforts to protect Callindor.
What struck me most about Beginning of a Hero, however, is the strong female characters: Selenia, Kira, Kellia and Theresa. I can imagine myself as a young girl and being entranced by this book because of these women. They are all strong (in their own ways) and smart. What they may not have in brawn, they make up for in brains or stealth. They are for the most part fearless. When I was growing up, there were few adventure stories available to me where girls/women were just as strong and smart as the boys, where they even acted like boys, fighting in battles, getting soaked by blood and gore without worrying about their looks. Of course, my favorite would be Theresa Marley. She’s a calico and since I’m partial to cats …
While I truly enjoyed the novel, the present tense and the extensive dialogue sometimes slowed me down. But not by much. It is a bit rough as one might expect with a first novel, especially a first novel in a series. But the story of Luke Callindor and his unlikely band of brothers/sisters kept me interested, kept me racing through the book to find out “what happens next.” Yallowitz is a master at action scenes; I often found my pulse speeding up while reading about the battles, the near-misses, the horror when you think that all might be lost.
If you’ve never read any book in the fantasy genre, then let Beginning of a Hero be your introduction. If you’re a fantasy book connoisseur, then add Beginning of a Hero to your collection. In any case, it’s FREE right now (and pretty darn inexpensive when it isn’t free). You have nothing to lose, except several hours where you’ll be lost in a world of frightful and wonderful things, a world you’ll want to return to while ensconced in the safety of your soft couch when you go to read more in The Legends of Windemere series.