Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Book CoverGwen’s review of The Betrayal (The Ælven, Book 1) by Pati Nagle
Romantic fantasy released by Del Rey 24 Mar 09

I don’t get much chance to read fantasy, though it is one of my first literary loves.  I cut my reader’s teeth on J.R.R. Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, and Terry Brooks.  To this day, I hear music that I listened to while reading and I still get a nostalgic whiff of what it was like to first experience those books.  It’s like being touched by the ghost of a wonderful old friend – a bit of a shiver and peaceful feeling all at the same time.  I got that same feeling, and a touch of romance, with this book and it was a very nice homecoming. 

All fantasy has some romantic elements in it, but seldom is there a central romance around which a story is based.  Fantasies are often these big, sweeping tales of strife and ambition, pitting magic and mundane, good and evil against each other and there’s seldom much room for romance.   In The Betrayal, we have a juxtaposition of these two genres and in some ways, while it’s a more “limited” tale in it’s sweeping scope, it’s almost a more intimate one because of the emotion involved.  There’s still the sweeping “good vs. evil” saga, but it’s told with the central romance between Turison and Eliani as the focus, and I really enjoyed the read.

Nagle has created a very complex, natural world for the ælven.  The characters are one with their environment and, when they’re not, it’s considered an abomination.  We’re left wondering why an abomination would occur in the first place and are left with some tantalizing hints as to why this has occurred.  (Yes, yes.  There is some not so subtle subtext about ecology, etc., which I choose to ignore.)  Nagle’s is a very complex world and I highly recommend keeping handy the map and glossary on the author’s site; I read the ARC, so I’m not sure if these are included in the final print version of the book (hopefully they are).

What we get with this story is a nicely wrought tale of passion, betrayal, and fantasy.  I hesitated reading it – thinking that I didn’t want to read a dry fantasy tale – and now wish I hadn’t waited.  It was a very good story that I highly recommend to any of you who have – like me – not dabbled in fantasy for a while.  Really a lovely story with quite the cliff-hanger ending.  I can’t wait for the next entry coming next Spring.

faye.jpgGrade: A

When the touch of a hand and a caring thought create a psychic bond that can span vast distances, the lives of two young ælven strangers are forever changed. Turisan and Eliani share the legendary gift of mindspeech, which can aid their people on the eve of war—but only if they are willing to embrace an irrevocable intimacy.
Read excerpts and deleted scenes.

Other books in the series:

Heart of the Exiled (The Ælven, Book 2), late spring/early summer 2010