Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Treespeaker by Katie W. Stewart

Jakan has a fulfilling life. He is a father and a husband, and more, he is Treespeaker to his people, the fifth tribe of Arrakesh. He interprets the will of Arrakesh, helping his people to thrive in their forest home. One day, a stranger named Beldror arrives from the outside. The villagers make him welcome, but Jakan senses that this visitor is hiding something dark. Jakan's worst fears are confirmed when Beldror uses his powers to turn the minds of the villagers against Jakan, even his own son, Dovan. Jakan is driven from the forest. It is up to Jakan to follow Arrakesh's last words of guidance in the hopes that he can wrest power back from Beldror before the Arrakeshi and their way of life are destroyed.

Treespeaker is a fantasy in the classic sense: It's set in a world completely unlike our own. Its populated by people with magical powers and it harbours strange creatures. But like any good fantasy, in Katie W. Stewart's book, readers find a deliberately crafted story that explores themes that are all too human: greed, lust for power, trust, and submission to the will of a higher power, to name a few.

However, readers should be prepared to tackle a few stumbling blocks along the way. First, Treespeaker suffers from a lack of subplot, which means that although the book is well-written, reading it is like travelling a straight path bordered by hedges. You move forward toward your destination, but there's no opportunity to pop off and explore something interesting along the way. And second, while the plot does provide a few surprising twists, Stewart's rendering of some of the more dramatic scenes saps a lot of the excitement. I found it difficult to summon up more than an academic interest in the plights of the characters.

Overall, I suggest this book for fans of fantasy who want a classic good vs. evil story with a modern ending. But, if you're looking for a nuanced study of human nature, then I suggest waiting a little while for Stewart to come out with something new; I have a feeling that she'll improve as she goes along.

Copy source: provided free by the author
Genre: fantasy
Format: e-book

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