Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: Lowthar's Blade Trilogy by R. L. LaFevers

The Lowthar's Blade trilogy by R. L. LaFevers (who authored the popular Beastologist series) has, I think, taken some unwarranted criticism. I've seen comments about how they are just a baby version of the Lord of the Rings, with simplified character and plot to the point of becoming dull and flat. And while I'm rather inclined to agree with the reviews on the point that these books are completely predictable, they are still excellent for children just beginning to read chapter books. Are you going to give your 9-year-old (who probably can't even spell "courageous") Tolkein's trilogy to read? I hope not... But definitely give them this. The chapters are short, there is lots of exciting action, and the plot and character development is very easy to follow.

In the first book, we are introduced to the world and the concept of a sword of power. We see the mysteriously helpful old man, the elves, the dwarfs, the men, the powerful bad guy threatening to take over the whole world who uses mindless beings he created as his minions, and at the end, we see the necessity of united the men, dwarfs, and elves against the evil mastermind. (This brings us into the second book, which is dedicated to getting the elves on board with the mission. Then the third book deals with the dwarfs and the making of a new blade.) Writing it like this makes it sound even more predictable than it is.

In truth, the characters are not flat. They are unique and face some very compelling and difficult decisions. Relationships change and evolve, and as with all these kinds of stories, there is the essential element of needing to decide who you trust and often having to trust those you do not know very well. At any rate, this is a great book for adventure loving children that are either too young or too unmotivated to read the longer more intricate works of fantasy. These stories may give them the background for the genre that will help them to read and appreciate Tolkein when their actually ready for him.

While Lowthar's Blade has nothing new, it is part of a great style of fantasy novels and contains all the "essential" elements. Again, this makes it perfect for a child who has never read fantasy before - it's a great introduction into a world of similar stories. In fact, most of the complaints I've read about these books are that they are too much like the other, greater works of the same genre. The grievance against them is that they are simplified. But, I believe this is one of their greatest attributes. So don't go out and buy this as a gift for your fantasy geek friend... get this for someone who hasn't explored fantasy, and even if they don't really like to read, I would almost guarantee that this will be one series that they will want to finish!

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