Enchantress is the first novel in James Maxwell’s The Evermen Saga. Available free on Kindle, I downloaded it thanks to the book description, which opens by stating it is “the first book in an epic new series to rival The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones”. As a huge fan of both (although the book series is called Song of Ice and Fire, the TV show is Game of Thrones), I was intrigued.
Ella and Miro are brother and sister, Ella a flower seller who dreams of being an enchantress, and Miro a soldier in training who dreams of being an elite blade singer. Each of the lands in the novel has its own “lore”, and in their homeland, Altura, the lore is enchanting. However Altura falls under the dominion of the Emperor, and must do his will, and it soon becomes clear that his evil is growing as Altura and the other lands find themselves at war with a demonic horde. Miro is in the thick of the action, while Ella has a quest of her own to fulfill.
This barely scrapes the surface of the story of Enchantress. There are many other characters whose stories are interwoven with Miro and Ella, and the story is packed with detail from start to finish. Many characters change so much during the course of the novel that they are barely recognisable from how they started.
Maxwell has created an entire world in Enchantress which is quite breathtaking in scope. The lore, for instance,I is different for each land, and just the enchanting requires that you pay attention. In addition to that, not only is there the present situation, but we learn of the history which led to this war and to Ella and Miro’s part in it. During the first half of the novel I felt that more explanation was needed of some things, that the author was perhaps so involved in his own creations that he neglected to fully introduce them to his readers, but once you’re past the halfway mark, you become fully immersed in Enchantress and in the world within its pages.
Similarly, despite the complexity of the world and the story, I was aware for some time that I felt the writing style was overly simplistic, particularly when Ella was the narrator. Once I became absorbed in the story however, that ceased to matter to me. Ella is a fairly simple girl, sometimes to the point of annoyance – there were times she seemed so blinkered that I wanted to shout at her, or times when she did something spectacularly dense. It made it seem very unrealistic for her to achieve the things she did. Sometimes I thought she should have stayed at home and had a nice cup of tea.
While Miro’s sections also maintained Maxwell’s simple writing style, he was a much more interesting and believable character. We can see his determination and talent from the outset, and so his achievements are considerably more plausible. There are some episodes early in the novel which display a naivety and make you irritated with him as with Ella, but as he matures and experiences war he becomes a much better character, Enchantress takes a while to get going, and the set up seems slow at times, but once it really gets going, there’s no stopping it. The action is fast paced and non-stop by the end, and will have you on the edge of your seat, needing to know what happens next. The end of the novel does leave questions unanswered, with enough suspense to make you want to continue on to novel two, The Hidden Relic. I’m not sure what direction the story will take in The Hidden Relic, which likely means I will be surprised.
Enchantress was a good fantasy read, and is hopefully the start of an engrossing saga, but as a long time fan of Tolkien and a recent devotee of George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire, I don’t think either saga has to worry about being toppled off their pedestals by this newcomer. Maxwell’s Enchantress is good and I would recommend it to fans of both, but it by no means matches the brilliance of either.
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