Legends of Marithia is a fantasy novel by Peter Koevari.
After her sorceress mother and vampire father are horrifically murdered right in front of her, Kassina makes a pact with the Lord of Darkness Shindar and swears revenge over the lands responsible for her parents demise. With Sindar's help she becomes the most powerful sorceress in all the lands, commanding a vast army of undead.
Marithia is a magical land inhabited by all manner of different races including human, elves and even fairies all living in peace until Kassina's pawn and son of Marithia's King commits regicide and sparks a brutal and bloody war.
Vartan is a young knight who is banished from King Arman's court by a miss-understanding and he soon discovers that he is the subject of a prophecy to activate a legendary weapon that could defeat the hordes of darkness and bring peace once more to the land.
The story presented in Legends of Marithia is certainly epic in scope, however it's crammed into only 172 pages and while this is clearly only the first volume in a series it does mean that the novel feels somewhat disjointed while the narrative jumps from one story arc to another at will, which becomes a little confusing at times.
It is of course fine to have a minimal amount of world building but to do so you really have to focus on the characters themselves and the story / plot. (we get an information dump / back-story at the beginning) In the case of Legends of Marithia there is just so much going on from different story arc's that the narrative seems to just lurch from one situation to another without anything in between that makes this feel less like a cohesive story and more just like a collection of events leading towards a common end.
The book is also so focused on telling the story that characterisation suffers somewhat, at no point did I really feel connected to the protagonists and as such I never developed any real feelings for the characters. This of course means that in the times where they are put dangerous situations that important sense of tension is somewhat lacking.
A good example of this is right at the very beginning of the book where Kassina and her parents have been captured and when we arrive on the scene they are caged up ready to be executed. Kassina is still a child and is portrayed as such, while her mother clearly cares for her she is introduced as a sorcerer - is she evil? Then her Dad's brought onto the scene and revealed as a vampire. Now we all know the classic depiction of vampires are as soulless blood sucking fiends right? so why does he show genuine feelings for his daughter, are vampires different in this world? are they more like the Angel or Edward Cullen new age vampire? are we then supposed to feel sympathy for their plight?
Without knowing this information when Kassina is asked to sell her soul to the demon Shindar (do half demon / sorcerer's have souls? does this mean that the vampires in the story do too?) the scene lacks the power it could have had. It's only after this that we learn some back-story about Marithia, Shindar and vampires, if these chapters were reversed it would mean that the Kassina / Shindar scene would have had greater power.
The use of myriad fantasy creatures also feels somewhat forced at times and some of these don't seem to have any real reason for being there other than the fact that they are fantastical creatures - they don't add anything to the world building or plot. I do however really like the way that the dragon's are portrayed - some fantastic ideas are used and this really saves the novel. The vampires are also a different touch to the usual high fantasy story and the author does manage to make this work within the setting quite nicely.
There is good use of descriptive prose that brings vivid imagery alive in some of the scenes and this does help to draw the reader into the world the author is creating.
I did like the story presented in Legend's of Marithia and for a debut novel it is better than many - feeling a lot like Eragon in many respects but it also suffers the same issue of trying to fit too many disparate ideas and genre tropes into one story, losing cohesion in the process.
Nonetheless the author shows a great deal of promise and there is a real glint of an unpolished diamond lurking beneath the surface. A mixed start that does have the potential to turn into a rewarding high fantasy series.
Written on 1st May 2011 by Ant.
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