Call Of The Herald, is the first in the Godsland series of young adult fantasy novels by Brian Rathbone. You can find Brian's books at http://brianrathbone.com/free-fantasy-ebook.html. Several, including Call Of The Herald, are available as eBooks for free. I downloaded this book free from Brian's site, as I recently met him on Twitter and appreciate his tweets throughout the day.
Echoes of the ancients' power are distant memories, tattered and faded by the passage of eons, but that is about to change. A new dawn has arrived. Latent abilities, harbored in mankind's deepest fibers, wait to be unleashed. Ancient evils awaken, and old fears ignite the fires of war. When a Catrin Volker, a teenage horse trainer, inadvertently fulfills the prophecy of the destroyer, she becomes the most feared and hunted person on all of Godsland. With the help of her friends, she must convince the world that she wants only peace.
Mr. Rathbone has done a wonderful job of creating a world and letting us know about it progressively as each chapter of the story unfolds. Catrin's homeland is separated from the wars and troubles of the rest of the world, but that quickly changes when the great Zjhon empire determines the prophesy of their destruction can be undone by attacking Catrin's home and killing the coming "Herald."
I was very impressed with the amount of detail Mr. Rathbone used to describe the rural community Catrin lives in. It is obvious that the author understands this lifestyle (his website hints that he grew up with a farming background), and his love for horses particularly shines through. That said, this detail also slowed the story at times, and Mr. Rathbone occasionally used farming, boating, and horse training language that I was unfamiliar with, as I'm much more a city boy.
I was equally impressed with the author's description of magic in the book. Magic is a foreign and rare thing for the people of the Godsland, and so magic is described from Catrin's view as she becomes aware of it around her. The true source of the magic (nature, divine, etc.) is kept hidden through much of the book and I expect its secrets will continue to come out as the story unfolds in the rest of the series. I enjoyed this approach, as it kept me interested, and it made magic feel like an integral part of the story.
The book starts slowly, as Catrin's life is simple and slow paced. It took me a while to come to care for her and her friends, but as the pace of the story picked up I found myself riveted and had no trouble flying through the last half of the book.
The book is written in third person, but primarily from Catrin's point of view. I found myself a little confused at times, as the book jumped to random characters' points of view from time to time in order to explain a parallel part of the story. I had no context for several of these characters, and I wonder if Mr. Rathbone will bring us back to them in the future.
I enjoyed Catrin's story, and look forward to reading the rest of the series. While the book does not end on a cliff hanger, it is obvious there is a lot more story to tell. Lots is left unfinished and many questions are unanswered. I am excited to read the rest and find out what happens.
Call Of The Herald is a strong opening to what looks to be a fun, magical, epic adventure for adults and young adults. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fantasy novel with a detailed, fleshed out world and the time to read what I expect is a compelling series.