“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions” - Albert Einstein

Storytelling is a much envied skill, a story well told can make us laugh and weep, we become one with the characters and it can change even everyday moments into those of epic proportions.

This is what author Gary Caplan sets out to do with his novel, ‘Advent of Darkness’, the first book in the ‘The Chronicles of Illúmaril’ series of fantasy fiction. And for this he has created one of the most intricately original and fascinating fantasy world that you will ever see. One day John Gideon, a war veteran finds himself taken away from his home into a different world, a world full of magic and illusions, science fiction and the reality of war. This new world, Illúmaril is said to be that of his ancestors and he soon learns that in spite of the many mythical creatures that inhabits this new world, it mirrors his old home in many ways. And when evil forces threaten to disrupt peace, he must seek help from the wizards like Ragan and a host of others to discover not only his true lineage but also his destiny as the saviour of this new land.

What Gary does nicely from time to time is to layer the main story with subtle commentary on the state of affairs of our ‘real’ world in relation to the made up one. The author is at his lyrical best when he describes the various mythical creatures and the numerous battle scenes. Even though there are a lot of characters and places and hence a whole lot of names, as you get into the story you will realize that you needn’t memorize the name of each and every person to really enjoy the story as the languid and free flowing writing keeps you thoroughly entertained.

Highlights worth mentioning are the excellent prologue, which very neatly captures the reader’s attention and you will be hooked on for the rest of the book. The book also comes with a trove of supporting materials, the original maps and illustrations are a nice touch and further heighten the fantasy experience for the reader. There is also this portion in the end which is shown as Gideon’s journal entries, explaining in detail various information and basically serving as a reference tool for fans wanting to know more about this fantasy world, this is pure ingenuity at its best and will be a haven for the obsessed. John Gideon’s journey to discover his power and his coming to terms with his fate is nicely done and is written with such mastery and skill that it is bound to have your rapt attention throughout.

Like the author himself has mentioned in the beginning of the book, the author’s friend Basil Varian deserves special mention for coming up with a lot of ‘exotic’ character names along with the author. Advent of Darkness has deep, intelligent characters, who are accompanied by smart and innovative writing and use of language. This novel shows that it can stand on its own in this genre and is the perfect example of a modern epic fantasy. The grand battle scene at the very end is the perfect finale you could have hoped for until you pick up the second book in the series, ‘Return of the Ancient Ones’.