***Note: I was given a free copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.***Strife Of The Mighty: Book One Of The Chronicles Of Vrandalin (The Læl Chronicles, #1) by Julius Bailey
Series: The Lael Chronicles #1
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A HUSBAND. A LIQUOR LOVER. A STRANGER. THE DIREST ADVENTURE OF THEIR CENTURY.
For over fifteen hundred years the kingdom of Vrandalin has withstood the might of the one enemy they had need to fear. Now a new threat arises. In the southeastern part of the land, a grim-looking newcomer arrives in the village of Varalel, bringing with him a warning of imminent ruin. Shortly afterward, Varalel is stormed, its folk scattered, and one man is separated from the woman he loves.
Little else matters to Allon Bracken than reuniting with his wife. With nowhere else to turn, he must place his faith in a gruff, mysterious man he knows little of, and an unexpected comrade. But his road is a hard one, and will lead him into dangers and discoveries that will change everything.
It is likely safe to assume that the silver-haired man did not expect events to take such a swift turn when he hasted to Varalel with his warning. But there is no time to curse ill fate. Extenuating circumstances compel him to share Allon’s road—unless it is the other way around—but he quickly finds himself with another goal: the capital must be warned. An army out of legend stamps through the land, goaded by an age-old enchantress with designs of destruction. Time is short. But he must look to himself as well, for a hunted man is rarely at rest, and the terrible creatures that pursue him do not sleep.
And for a former traveling trinket seller deemed village ‘softhead’ by his peers, things are suddenly very horrible indeed. Or are they? It seems that chaos brings folk together. Joined to Allon’s path by an inner impulse, he discovers a companionship he did not expect to find. He will need it.
Enter Vrandalin; a land where ancient powers stir, dark beasts prowl, forgotten lore returns, and those who are thought weak discover their strength.
What struck me first as I began this book, was the precise language usage. It is not your typical reading level we’ve become accustomed to and cannot be easily skimmed. Each word was obviously chosen carefully to carry the weight of the story. It reveals a heavy influence of Tolkien and not in a bad way by any means. There are poems and songs scattered throughout the book, perfectly normal in a tale like this, and for once I didn’t skim or skip them. They were exceedingly well written and each fit seamlessly with the narrative.
Mr. Bailey handles the travel across an entire land fairly well. He uses the time to give necessary history to the reader in the form of stories told by Brandegan to his traveling companions. While Brandegan is obviously a man used to quests and moving people along, Allon and Merch are nothing more than simple people. However, they show that even the quietest and most easy going can step up when the need arises. With well-written moments of tension, the book moves along with a purposeful step.
If I was to nitpick something, it would be the alternating use of the character names. By that, I mean at one time he would refer to the character as Allon and the next he would call him Mr. Bracken. However, that is me really digging for something to point out. I was swept away by the tale. I don’t ever recall being pulled out of the narrative by any errors. It’s a very well done book.
This story is a true high fantasy. It’s difficult to find ones that have been done well in the indie world. However, Mr. Bailey has done just that. Even though it comes in at 418 pages, I was sad to see the story come to an end. I would recommend it to any fan of Tolkien, Sanderson, and any other high fantasy author you care to name. I personally will be looking forward to the second book in this series.