(2006-08-30) The Elder Staves by Steven Oliverez
With an interesting plot, characters and imagery, Steven Oliverez really steps up to the plate in this compelling fantasy novel. Oliverez engages his characters in a world that hovers above a frozen wasteland, the floating world of Tyr. This world, being held by the magic of the Elders is a complacent and soothing land, forever bathed in sunlight. When winds from the harsh environment below begin to slowly drift into Tyr, it is realised that the world is falling towards the wastelands below.
The power of the Elders is failing, their Staves no longer holding the land so high, out of harms way. This is a direct result from the evil that dwells below in the wastelands… An army of evil that had been banished from Tyr so long ago. As the world of Tyr begins to fall and violence ravages the once contented world, below an evil is growing ever stronger… more terrifying than the horror unfolding on the world above.
As power shifts, nobles are assassinated, buildings destroyed, Carn must do what he can to try and save the city from the impending disaster. This story is one of love, trust and dishonesty. Brilliantly spun so the reader is engaged with characters from Tyr and below, the reader becomes apart of the story and will find it hard to disengage.
One of the main themes in this novel is that of magic. Magic plays a major role in the story, and as one man turns to technology, a fine line is drawn between whether magic is indeed the more powerful option. Will science prevail over magic? The author constantly plays with this idea as his characters do also. One thing that really engages the reader is that of how Oliverez develops technology within the confines of a traditional fantasy story. Yes, this has been done before but the precision Oliverez adopts will definitely sate the thirst of any science fiction reader that may pick up this novel.
Characterisation is flawless in this fantasy tale, each character with their own personality and different way of appealing to other characters in the story. Following their own plot within the story, read how the author develops his characters and sends them into situations that either make them or break them. With a classic finesse, characters build in strength or die gracefully. Magic against magic becomes common, the finer mages of the story getting the better over others.
The story never fails to satisfy. Many a novel has taken readers on quite an uneventful journey for many pages; Oliverez makes this one of the most perceptive fantasy novels you may come across. Gruesome imagery will captivate and hold you, everything being described with a flair that is hard to come by. This novel will climb in its genre, the technology aspects alone setting it out amongst other fantasy novels.
Without giving too much away, it can be said with confidence that “The Elder Staves” will leave you wanting more; no doubt we haven’t seen the last of Steven Oliverez.
Review by Jason Damman
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