Book #1 in The Talisman Series
Published 31st May 2017
*Available on Kindle Unlimited*
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The gateway into becoming a teenager is hard, and for poor Rome Lockheed it’s about to get even harder. Rome is an eighth grader who loves hanging with his friends and finding adventure, however, when he sneaks out and accidentally sets his neighbour’s tree on fire in a strange way, adventure finds him. Thinking nothing of the event, Rome decides it’s best to pretend it never happened, but when classmate and all round strange kid, Julian, approaches him and makes it known that he saw what Rome did, forgetting about it is the last thing that will happen. Rome quickly learns from Julian, and the eccentric librarian Mr. Jones, that he is a fire dragon, part of the Clan of Volcana, who is under a spell to hide his dragon form, and that Julian is the Synergist Knight that he is meant to bond with. What comes next is a whirlwind of a crash course as Rome learns about the Void, The Tyrant King, and The First dragon. Darkbrands are threatening the Earth and it is up to the dragons and their knights to defend it. To do this, the boys need to perform The Great Synergy, the problem is, the information surrounding it have been lost. It’s a race against time as the boys try and work together to learn how to transform into the defenders that this realm needs, and time is not on their side. Will they be able to perform The Great Synergy before it’s too late?
I found this story to be a super fun ride. Though the story is marketed to middle grade and young adult readers, the story was still enjoyable to me as an adult. Yes, I could obviously see that the story was not written for my audience, but it didn’t take away the sense of adventure and fun that the book brings to it’s readers.
When Rome sets his neighbour’s tree on fire accidentally, he doesn’t realise how that little event will change the course of his life. What started out as a fun adventure, quickly turned into a coming of age story. This is a boy on the cusp of becoming a young man, he’s trying to navigate life like any kid his age, and then he has this immense responsibility laid at his feet -save the world from the Tyrant King’s army. That would be a big enough responsibility for an adult let alone a boy. I loved how in the beginning Rome wasn’t sure what to believe or even which road to take. I feel that it leant a certain reality to the story that even though most people would love to be able to turn into a magical creature such as a dragon, there’s still a level of responsibilities that comes with that power. So having Rome unsure whether he even wanted to carry this mantel of savior of the world really added something to his character for me. The growth in his character in this initial instalment alone was noticeable and something that I really enjoyed about this story. Julian was a quirky character and I really his excitement and eccentricities come through. He’s an outsider and the other kids see him as strange and weird, but he never lets that get to him. He’s know since he was very young that he had a higher purpose in life as a Synergist Knight, and that’s what he focuses on, because saving the world is his responsibility, and he accepted that from the word go. He can come across a little overbearing with his obnoxiousness at his own abilities, but I feel like it’s all part and parcel with being lumped with such a huge responsibility so young, plus his father would have a lot to do with that. And even though he seems arrogant or obnoxious at times, he is still a really likeable character because his intentions and heart are just so pure. The relationship development between the boys was wonderful and I really enjoyed watching it develop and them grow together as a fighting pair.
I found Mr. Jones’ character to be a wonderful addition and I’m looking forward to learning more about him as the series progresses. Julian’s dad was abrasive and unlikeable from the minute I met him, but I’m curious about his story, I feel like he might be a sympathiser of the Tyrant King, though I’m probably wrong. Something about him just rubs me the wrong way. I am super curious to see whether Rome actually discloses his new found powers to his mother, and the reaction she has to it. I feel like it’s going to become impossible for him to hide his true form from her, and I’m curious as to whether his parents are also dragons.
I did find that the dialogue between the characters, especially between the two boys felt a little stilted at times. There were very little contractions in the dialogue which I felt made the conversations seem too formal for young teenage boys. There was a lot of “I am going…” “I am coming…” instead of “I’m” ” They’re” “Won’s”. The dialogue between Julian and his father was intentionally formal due to the strange nature of Julian’s father and his expectations on his son. I just feel like the conversations could use a little work to loosen them up a bit.
The story itself was very enjoyable and fun, with a hint of danger and loads of adventure. It was complex enough to stay interesting throughout the course of the book, but not too much that we were having info dump issues. Everything is explained simple enough that the reader understands what’s going on and how things work, but it leaves open enough things that these can be expanded on as the series progresses, which is brilliant as that’s what will keep the reader coming back wanting to learn more.
The fight scenes were well written and I love that the boys had to rea raining for a few years, he is still a child, same as Rome, who literally JUST found out that he’s a dragon. I dislike it in stories where the characters know nothing of their great expectations then all of a sudden they find out and they’re a master combatant. I found the darkbrands – namely the Garms – exceptionally well written, scary enough for a child but not too scary, and serious enough that an adult can definitely feel the threat of the beast throughout the character’s encounters with them.
All in all I feel like this was a great introduction to what promises to be a fantastic younger fantasy series. I feel like it’s a brilliant segue for young readers to move into the fantasy genre and it’s a nice lighthearted start for them, it tackles some serious issues, but it’s not too overbearing or overwhelming with the amount of information needed to understand the world or magic systems.