In the kingdom of Areya, humans, animals, and the magical creatures that inhabit the Eternal Forest have long coexisted peacefully, but now something is horribly wrong. A terrifying stream of monstrous creatures has begun to emerge from the secret depths of the earth, terrorizing all of Areya's native inhabitants. From the tiny, wise drevalyankas to the bellicose cave-dwelling gnomes to the devious kikimoras who gather roots and herbs in the marsh, everyone is in danger. With the aid of Urart, the magical sword that has been passed down from the time of the ancient northern ancestors, Grand Duke Vlady can offer temporary protection to his people. But Prince Vraigo, Vlady's nephew, who is endowed with magical power himself, understands that the source of the evil monsters must be found if there's any hope of survival. Along with a motley crew of his forest-dwelling friends, Vraigo sets off on a perilous quest in search of the koschei, the powerful, corrupt Archmagus whose mission is the destruction not just of Areya, but of the entire world. As if this weren't bad enough, Urart disappears from the duke's stronghold. Without it, Areya is doomed, and only Vraigo, the White Raven, can possibly get the sword back. This journey requires Vraigo to use all of his keen wits and magical abilities, as well as to ally himself to dangerous creatures like yagas and werewolves, natural enemies of man, and precipitates the young prince into the most bewildering, complex challenge he has faced yet: life in the twenty-first century.
Hordes of monsters plague the kingdom of Areya; signs indicate the unseen hand of a malevolent koschei, a magus corrupted by a misguided quest for eternal life. When the legendary sword Urart is stolen, the magically endowed Vraigo sets off on a journey that will lead him into a world he never imagined: 21st-century Earth. This fantasy novel embraces Lopatina s Siberian homeland, drawing inspiration from Russian folklore and the archeological sites she visited as a student. The author s ambition and unusual setting are undermined by a conventional plot and Lopatin s flat interpretation of Lopatina s prose; the protagonist is entirely too special, while the story is not. The star of the book is the fantastic Siberia of its setting, not the brutal desolation Westerners might imagine after decades of cold war propaganda but a diverse, richly populated land the author clearly loves.
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A Different Kind of Fantasy
White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors is Irina Lopatina's debut novel and the first in the White Raven trilogy. Inspired by the pristine, ancient forests of Irina's native Siberia, the landscape and characters of White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors come to life throughout the text. It's easy for the reader to hear the wise drevalyanka's thoughts or to loathe the irksome pikshas while forming a tenuous friendship with Kenush, the beautiful but dangerous werewolf. This epic fantasy is sure to be a winner with lovers of the classics and an easy entry into the genre for newbies (like me). Vraigo, the White Raven, and our hero, is flawed enough that we can relate to him, and gifted enough that we root for him throughout the book. In his homeland of Areya, Vraigo dominates, but he is comically inept when he finds himself facing his greatest challenge yet: a big city in the 21st century where werewolves masquerade as muggers and a witch hides beneath the disguise of a seductress.
White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors blurs the line of good vs. evil by creating a conflict where natural enemies must form alliances to defeat an even greater enemy, adding a layer of complexity and interest over many traditional fantasy novels. This book reads beautifully and exotically while wrapping the reader in its pages. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys fantasy!