There's a been a recent trend for fantasy epics to become as over-the-top with its depictions of violence, profanity and sex. But what's a good fantasy writer to do? Where can the genre go, only darker? If they didn't, we would be stuck with the old good versus evil story with various plot devices that don't raise the story above the mediocre. Having read a number of fantasies of late that were average to extremely good, I wondered what author Joseph Machney could do with his epic. After all, The Legend of Zyrah is the first in his epic series.
I had to read books of other genres so that I could look at this one with fair eyes. And I have to say - I enjoyed it.
The MacGuffin in the story centres around a wizard who has become dictator in all but name. He has control of two magical devices that help him keep a grip on power, often ruling with an iron fist while he does so.
Fortunately, not everyone accepts his take on things, and our hero soon pops up to secure the remaining artefacts, thus stopping the despot from becoming even more of a tyrant than he is already.
Around this central theme are an array of characters that develop beautifully as the story progresses. In fantasy, the genre has been done to death so to bring something new, you're going to have to do a 'Tolkien' or make your characters engaging. It's here where I think the author has done a stellar job.
Kion is obviously set up to be the best character, but as I read others, I really warmed to Akin, Teagan and Jade. The whole quest, therefore, is to see exactly how balance can be restored to the realm of Zyrah, not essentially to remove the evil ruler from power. Is there a commentary on the current world's status being formed by the author? That's one of the things I pondered as I reached this first book's conclusion. Ultimately, you will have to read the book to understand why the quest / mission / task has to happen, but I promise you that you will enjoy the ride.
The Legend of Zyrah is a strong first book in the series. The second book is out now. So if you want to immerse yourself in a well drawn fantasy world but with especially well drawn characters, give this book a try!