The Old Ways by R K Summers

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The night Thomas Rhymer’s young sister is stolen away by shadows and smoke, he discovers there’s more to life than the fields and forests he knows so well. If he has any hope of rescuing Alissa, he must first cross into a realm where magic is lifeblood, and where shadows dance with dragonfire.

With the help of the seelie faery Thistledown, Thomas embarks on a treacherous quest, deep into the heart of war-raved Albion. But getting his sister back means pledging aid to Mab, the usurped Queen of the Old Ways, against the tyranny of the Dark Prince.

Yet danger and deceit lie around every corner, and some secrets are better left untold.

RK Summers has woven her own particular magic into this adventurous retelling of Thomas Rhymer.  As a self-proclaimed enthusiastic as all things mythological, I am heartily dismayed at myself for reacting to the following sentence with revelatory surprise: “The Old Ways by RK Summers is a wonderful retelling-with-a-twist of the tale of Thomas Rhymer”. (inspired-quill.com)

The revelations were thus; first that Thomas Rhymer had a tale to retell and second that he was a real life person of some sorts from the old days (see what I did there?) of Bonnie Scotland. My self-disgust was soon assuaged with a huge wave of gratefulness to RK Summers and Inspired Quill for educating me and providing a new story bow for my folklore quiver. I think you should read it too, and here’s for why.

Thomas Rhymer is someone I think we can all relate to. He’s minding his own business, living his average life, trundling to market of a Wednesday, until he is enlightened about his family’s past. This swiftly plunges him into darkness before he begins to fight his way back to normality with the help of his loyal friends (and a sprinkling of magic).

I’m still undecided on Mab. She is the embodiment of magic, the loyal queen of her realm and leader of her magical folk. Yet, despite all of these strong accolades, she is weakened by the Dark Prince. She is in a constant downward spiral, resisting the magnetic pull of the prince while protecting her subjects.

Like Mab, I’m sure I shouldn’t, but I quite enjoyed the character of the Dark Prince. Severe mood swings and abusive behaviours aside, he did show a flash of occasional humility and a sharp, if a little warped, sense of humour. Maybe ‘enjoyed’ is the wrong word, but the tension created from his unpredictability was certainly intriguing.

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Like any fantasy worth its salt, The Old Ways submerges us into a whole other world, which means a whole world full of characters to get to know. You have your handful of main characters, of course and the hoards of extras (think warring armies a la LOTR/ GOT). Then there are the middling characters; those who are bequeathed a name but are forgotten pretty rapidly as the next slice of action begins. There was a little too much time given to these middling characters (or too little depending on how you feel about grizzly old men in guest houses, invincible monsters or murderous siblings). The Dark Prince has far too many offspring, which are difficult to keep track of as a reader, never mind at family gatherings. No wonder they went the way they did. Speaking of, I’m not sure that I believed said offspring’s reactions to what was happening considering who their father was. But I am treading very close to spoilersville and so I will shut up.

I was always going to love this one. It has faeries and talking horses and magical realms and everything. The Old Ways would make a lovely Christmas gift for fantasy fans and/or a selfish treat! You can buy The Old Ways here. Enjoy!

The Quest of the Unaligned by A.L. Phillips

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In the city of Tonzimmel, where hover-cars zip over anonymous crowds, contracts are king, and education is everything, Alaric has worked hard to make a decent life for himself. As a level nine security chief, he needs no one and nothing, and is in control of his fate. Or so he thinks.

When a stranger from neighboring Cadaeren suddenly appears, however, babbling of magic, quests, and long-lost princes, Alaric finds himself contractually obligated to undertake a journey that his training hasn’t prepared him for: the Quest of the Unaligned. Accompanied by Laeshana, a Cadaerian native who has reasons of her own for helping him on his quest, Alaric is soon plunged into a perilous adventure that will force him to confront a seemingly impossible truth and embrace his destiny, even as the fate of Cadaeren hangs in the balance.

Goodreads.com

Now with a title like ‘The Quest of the Unaligned’ you could be forgiven for expecting a biographical account of one book blogger’s mental health (how very dare you). As it is, the story that A.L. Phillips tells is much more adventurous and has almost as much magic.

A.L. Phillips hails from Pasedena, California and has a B.A. in Sociology. This little bit of background information about the author is quite interesting when reading ‘The Quest of the Unaligned” which revolves around the reluctant prince Alaric who stirs up a bit of trouble when he is ‘tricked’ into leaving one world and jumps head first into a very different one. Throw in an evil, disgruntled Cadearen-ite, a disillusioned monarchy and a beautiful love interest with the brains to rival Hermione Granger and you’ve got yourself a book!

‘The Quest of the Unaligned’ is very much about exploring social norms and expectations. The contrast between futuristic Tonzimmel and ye olde worlde Cadearen, transcends topography and fashion. There is also a distinct difference in the way people are treated and discriminated against; in Tonzimmel a person is respected for their achievements no matter their background; in Cadearen, there is a clear cut hierarchy that no amount of talent can change. Or so it is believed by the good folk of Cadearen. In walks Alaric …

‘The Quest of the Unaligned’ was very enjoyable to read. It feels like a classic adventure fairy tale with some spine tingling mishaps along the way and a happy ending. A heady mix of Fantasy and Sci-Fi, if you like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Shrek, Once Upon a Time etc. I think you’ll enjoy this book.

I would recommend reading this book curled up in your fave coffee shop of a quiet Saturday morning. With a pastry. Obviously.

The Quest of the Unaligned is available to purchase here. There are also some short stories available on Phillips website in which she delves further into the world of Tonzimmelian and Cadaeren. Should you wish to, you can follow A.L. Phillips on twitter and tumblr.

Thank you to A.L Phillips for sending me a copy of your book to read and review! It was a joy.