Review: Path of a Novice by R.K. Lander

FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Path of a Novice, the first book in The Silvan Trilogy by R.K. Lander, made me think back to those days when I dreamed about being a warrior in a magical world whose name is chanted everywhere I would go. One would have to train to wield a sword, an axe, or shoot arrows while in battle. One would have to be fearless, risk one’s life to save others. Or, one could just read this book and see the path a half-Silvan, half-Alpine elf with silvery blond hair and moss green eyes named Fel’annár has to walk towards becoming a warrior.

Before Fel’annár and his two friends Ramien and Idernon can be promoted to warrior status, they must first complete their novice training. For Ramien and Idernon, this might be nothing but a simple first step in their military careers, but Fel’annár doesn’t yet know what effect his fighting talents and his deeds will have among those that he encounters. He is also to discover that he has a gift, one which allows him to fight like an extraordinary warrior and also, to listen to the very trees. As Fel’annár’s training leads him to battle against Deviants and Sand Lords, others secretly make moves to keep his true identity as the illegitimate son of a king a secret from himself and those that would use it against the father he never knew.

Expect to see the Silvan people, a people that have come to be famed in the military as master archers, for what they are: a people at one with their forest home. This home of the Silvans, known as the Deep Forest of Ea Uaré, you are able to see clearly as if you were an eagle soaring over their villages that are scattered throughout a most natural, green landscape.

Fel’annár, whose name translates to “Green Sun”, might’ve grown up among Silvan elves, but with the face of an Alpine elf, he cannot possibly be a pure Silvan. His aunt Amareth had protected that face of his, a face that would cause him to be both loved and hated, for fifty-one years. Through reactions from those he encounters, I saw Fel’annár as an elf that girls would certainly see as a beautiful specimen, but inserting details about his hands being rough and calloused and how he can pull an arrow and shoot from a horse in a split second, the author shows us that beauty, in general, shouldn’t be mistaken for softness in any way.

The great thing about The Company, the group consisting out of Fel’annár, Ramien, and Idernon, is that their differences make them the perfect team. Fel’annár is shown as a great fighter with a temper he must learn to control. One mental trigger that stokes that temper of his is being called an Alpine. The big Ramien, nicknamed the Wall of Stone, has a paradoxical quality about him which leads him to fuss over food. Idernon is an elf of wisdom who is quick to drift away and ponder philosophical questions; he has known for a long time that his half-Silvan, half-Alpine friend has the qualities of a leader.

The Company, as a minor disappointment for readers, get broken up. The advantage in this is that we see Fel’annár grow as a leader in the making without his friends there with him. Though he can fight well enough, there are lessons about battle that he will have to learn, one of which being that to shoot for the head with an arrow is not always what keeps those that fight on your side alive. Fel’annár holds back with his fighting skill in the beginning, but Turion, his commanding officer, knows this and wishes to simply understand the boy’s behavior at first. When Turion asks Fel’annár what it is that he wants, he looks at Turion with “conviction, surety, and single-minded determination” and says that he “wants to be a captain.”

What Fel’annár, and readers, do not yet see at first is how great the boy’s destiny really is, something that Lander slowly shows us and when it all comes together, readers will surely feel the impact of something divinely powerful. Mentoring Fel’annár is Lieutenant Lainon, Prince Handir’s ex-charge. Prince Handir, seeing Fel’annar for himself from a distance, is to discover the truth about Thargodén, the king, and what led to his mother’s disappearance and his father becoming but an almost empty shell of himself. He knows about Fel’annár, thanks to Lainon, and does what he can on his part to come up with a plan to keep the identity of Fel’annár secret. His brother, Prince Rinon, is one elf that should not find out.

With the Silvans, the boy is popular, but obvious hatred comes his way from a few Alpine elves because he looks like an Alpine but chooses to be a Silvan. But there is more to it than that. Fel’annár’s mother, who he believes to be dead, had been Silvan and he knew nothing about his father. Amareth, his aunt, never gave him much in the way of answers. Even during his novice training, we learn more about him than he learns about himself, but at least he grows and changes with each lesson and experience.

There is a time when Turion approaches Fel’annár from behind and Fel’annár is able to tell exactly that it is Turion. The author doesn’t tell readers how Fel’annár knows this exactly. Three races of elves, besides the Ari’ator, are mentioned. “The Silvans of the great forests, the Alpines of the mountains and the Pelagians of the sea.” If readers are looking to meet all three of them they will be disappointed when they don’t get to meet any Pelagians.

Race discrimination, terrible secrets, spiritual wounds, paying more attention to nature, are all secondary themes explored by R.K. Lander as she begins her trilogy with a first installment powerful enough to draw courage, determination, world-improving action out of any who chooses to read it. Her protagonist, Fel’annár, is a brand new beacon of hope for young readers everywhere. It is more than a fun read – it is screamingly unforgettable, spiritually stimulating, and extraordinarily effective.

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Author
Date Published: April 21, 2017
Genre: Coming of Age
Pages: 219
View on Amazon
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