To save her brother's life Gwenaella risks her own in a magical forest to seek a unicorn's healing magic. But the remedy comes with an exorbitant price. She must commit to a perilous journey through Europe, the Middle East, and India, to the high mountains of Tibet, to seek the hidden Garden at the Roof of the World and pluck a fruit that would restore the father of all unicorns to health. Joined by a few trusted followers called by the unicorns' magic, she will face many dangers on her epic journey. To succeed, Gwenaella must find a balance between faith, friendship, and love and discover the true meaning of sacrifice.
The Garden at the Roof of the World is a stunning debut fantasy epic in a rigorously historical 13th century setting, with vivid characters and a thrilling, romantic story that spans cultures and continents.
"A solid mystical adventure that will interest readers from start to finish with its likable protagonists and constant twists and turns." -Publishers Weekly
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.85(d)|
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I had expected a conventional fantasy novel, but W. B. J. Williams has written one that that is a little different. The novel begins as Gwenaella is fetched home from the convent school by her uncle because her brother is critically ill. As they drive away from the school, an elderly woman is hit in the head by a rock. Gwenaella insists on taking her back to the convent for medical attention over her uncle’s objections, and on the ride back to the convent the old woman tells Gwen to seek a unicorn in the forest near her home. This small act of kindness is the beginning of an epic journey for Gwen and companions she meets along the way. The first thing that surprised me was that the convent school that Gwenaella attended was conventional Roman Catholic. Traditional fantasy books tend to use imagined religions, either entirely made up or with a basis in actual religions. The quest takes Gwen far from her home in France, and she meets Jews, Muslims, and Hindus. The author’s biography says he has advanced degrees in anthropology and archaeology, which he appears to have used while crafting this tale. The story is set in the 13th century, and the Publisher’s Weekly review says that the novel is “rigorously” historically accurate. I cannot attest to this since I am not a student of medieval history, and I found nothing that appeared anachronistic. So we have a realistic setting with unicorns, mermaids, demons, ogres, griffons, yetis and sea monsters. And it works beautifully. The author does an excellent job of fleshing out all the characters involved in the quest, which is no mean feat since all together there are eight people and a unicorn. There is a lady who is running away from an unwanted marriage and her maid, a knight that had been on his way to join a crusade, and a girl of the streets that is running for her life, and this is before they leave France and meet others who will join their quest to find the garden at the roof of the world. I really enjoyed watching the characters grow and change through the course of the novel. The book is well-written and the pacing is quite good. All in all, it was a good read, and I would read other books written by W. B. J. Williams. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book has it all! The characters are compelling, adventure is on every page, the geography is fascinating, and the treatment of the world's religions is beyond belief. I seldom get so emotionally involved in a book, but this is no ordinary book. Every character is deep and conflicted. The hard choices for all of us are on display. The mental images stay with you long after you set the book down. There is so much action, romance, adventure and character development that I couldn't believe the book wasn't much longer. All the necessary details are there, and the words create powerful images from tiny interactions to monumental battles. Don't miss this one!
Set in the mid-13th century, this is a romance/adventure/fantasy novel that moves through Paris, Antioch and Kathmandu. Four girls join up in a quest to save the father of all unicorns. The four girls each have their own reasons for joining the trip and each picks up helpers and hinderers along the way. Supposedly told in a letter from one of the last-to-join helpers to Father Thomas Aquinas who helped them in Paris, the story moves fast. Fantastical beasts and demons align against them and are defeated or delayed by the girls and their helpers. Characters were vivid and descriptions were just enough to envision the settings. The language seems to suit a letter from the 13th century. Good story but found it fairly easy to put down, which puzzles me. This was an ARC so the typos will probably be corrected in the next version. Received free copy for review.