The Cloudstone Key
Darren T. Patrick
Available on Amazon: http:// www.amazon.com/dp/B00EWZJI16
For me, this book began life as a beta-read for a fellow author. Initially it was in two much shorter parts, but has since been combined to form a single, more powerful tale.
The Cloudstone Key is the first book in The Rithhek Cage Trilogy, promising much more from this talented author.
It has recently been published and, as a result, I am now reviewing the final version.
So, here goes:
In the remote mining village of Aystin, Karsen Morgate secretly longs to explore the world outside the town walls; but instead dutifully spends his nights protecting the precious Cloudstone tiles–mined by his father, and engraved with mystical symbols and lore by the reclusive Adept Noxyn. When his half-brother, Petr, commits a gruesome crime, Karsen is forced to flee his home, carrying with him a tile depicting a unique artifact–the Ennae–entrusted to his care by the Adept himself. Alone, ailing, and on the run, Karsen must find help, find his way, and decipher the true meaning of the Ennae. For he soon realizes that he is being pursued by the dark brotherhood of the Shroud, and that he has somehow become an unwilling pawn in an ancient conflict.
The Shroud is stirring.
The world of Tholann is in danger.
And young Karsen Morgate is in the middle of it.
In the fantasy world of Tholann, the author creates a mystical place, filled with fascinating civilisations. These range from the giant female Jikhquae to the enchanting Sky-Touched population, together with the humorous Rethe ( talkative squirrel-like creatures) and the mysterious Lost community. Amongst all of these groups, the human society, of which Karsen is one, continue to live in virtual ignorance of the goings-on beyond their own frontiers. Their fear of the unknown and the danger that lies out there keeps them from exploring further afield. When Karsen flees his home, he cannot ever imagine the predicament in which he soon finds himself. As his interest and curiosity are at an all-time high, he learns some unsavoury truths about his half-brother and discovers that his mission – on behalf of Adept Noxyn – is nowhere near as straightforward as he had anticipated.
The settings are well-defined, you can picture these places in your mind quite easily. I particularly loved the dialogue scenes, as the author manages to capture the essence of the characters, without the need for overly descriptive details. The exchange of conversation between Karsen and Bestah (Sky-Touched) is priceless: funny and frustrating at the same time. The characters are three-dimensional and ooze personality – you either love them or hate them! The momentum of the story is well paced, from fast-moving scenes to ones where key pieces of information spill out. The tension is well-built at the end as you are left hanging, waiting to see if and how Karsen will complete the task of delivering the Ennae.
The combination of the two parts into one book give the story much more impact and the end result is more polished and complete. I loved the character of Bestah and Cal-ba, their scenes together are both sweet and comical. There are plenty of twists and the dream sequences give a fascinating insight as to what is still to come. I found it a gripping story, I read it straight through in one sitting. I’m glad it’s a trilogy, and hope I don’t have to wait too long for the next instalment. Comparing the final version to its early form, it’s obvious that Darren is very serious about perfecting his craft, it clearly shows that he has put in lots of time and effort in getting this story to its current place.
If you like fantasy tales, then this one is for you.