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Posted November 7, 2012
Pacific Book Review
First, understand this-- although a reviewer on a popular book website referred to "Dark Children of Naor" as a “novel,” it is not a novel. Just to set the record straight—so that you aren’t somewhat confused by chapter one, “The Hunter,” ending, and chapter two, “The Burden of Inheritance,” starting and having absolutely nothing to do with chapter one-- it is two short stories followed by what amounts to a novella. Still, once you realize that the stories in the book are not interrelated, for the most part it’s an enjoyable read.
Chapter one, “The Hunter,” was my favorite among the three stories, even though there were story elements left hanging at the end. At the center of the story is Arnoku, who is driving a sled across the Ice Lands to Prince Togom’s castle, carrying a message from Prince Vinleno, Togom’s half-brother. Once Togom reads the message, he asks Arnoku to take the message on to Sirdan Castle. Arnoku refuses, in part because his sled carries valuable skins that he needs to finish curing so they can be sold. Although it’s not clear, it appears that among the hides he carries Margan skin, the hide of a particularly nasty dragon that’s difficult to hunt and kill.
Arnoku spends the night at an inn, where he overhears two men talking about an unusual wolf, which had bitten one of the men. This leads into the two talking about the prince’s daughter- it’s not clear which prince—who 14 months before had been bitten by a vampire, became a vampire herself, and was eventually staked by some of the hunters.
After spending the night at an inn, Arnoku sets out for home. Along the way he meets a frail, near-dead-looking woman, named Lanes, on a sled being pulled by two emaciated dogs. He offers her help, which, naturally enough, eventually leads to trouble for him, culminating in a battle involving a vampire and an elf.
It’s pretty decent entertainment, but also has a maddeningly feel of incompleteness. The chapter ends with the reader not knowing what was in the note and what was the whole “unusual wolf” talk about. Oh, well, maybe the author will pick up those story threads elsewhere.
Chapter two, “The Burden of Inheritance,” is an entertaining, though predictable, tale of a female dragon hunter. You can see what’s coming throughout it, although Ms. Plichta-Jendzio crafts a decent enough story that you stick with it to the end.
Finally, there is chapter three, “Second Wife,” the novella. This tale centers around Namefer, a royal widow who is now sought after by her brother-in-law to become his second wife. The author does a good job of blending Egyptian-derived elements while developing a mystery tale, complete with a few red herrings. Someone has been killing members of various royal families, and whoever it is appears to want Namefer dead. This all leads to Namefer attempting to solve the mystery to prevent further murders, including her own.
If you are a fan of fantasy, you’ll enjoy these stories. Ms. Plichta-Jendzio’s story telling skills are better than many others writing in this field, and it will be interesting to see how she develops those skills in future writings. If you happen to run into the author, please ask her what was in that note Arnoku carried and let me know.
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