Prelude to War by Maria Albert

PreludetoWarLGTitle: Prelude to War

Series: Descent of Kings 01

Author: Maria Albert

Genre: High Fantasy

Length: Super Novel (380pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (22nd April 2013)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥4 ½ Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: “Never make a mistake, Beryl. Never, in your youth or ignorance or arrogance, do something that might endanger your people, that might cause others harm.”
– Elven Prince Eladar

Eladar, second son of the Elven King of Riviera, can never atone for his disastrous initial foray into the Lands of Men, but he yet hopes to make his family proud. Before his simple mission to meet Prince Talon of the shattered kingdom of Amontir is done, he saves lives and takes them, finds love, and stands to lose all he holds most dear as he leads Talon’s cousin, Beryl, to sanctuary amongst his people.

Caravan guard Alnas is searching for an unconventional love and thinks he’s found it in Hardred, but he must first overcome the former mariner’s tragic past. Neither man dreams their act of kindness in freeing Master Trader Oberas’s snagged cargo vessel will trigger events that alter the fate of their world.

The destinies and lives of these men and others become inescapably intertwined with that of Rion, son of a minstrel and a City Guard, in a world about to be consumed by war. Their trials and tragedies, mistakes, and triumphs will either save the world or destroy it.

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Review: Eladar, Talon, Beryl, Alnas, Hardred, Oberas and Rion are all main characters in this book. We are introduced to each character and their lives in this excellently woven fantasy. Eladar is given the task of meeting Talon, but Talon is late. Alnas and Hardred come to Oberas’s aid on the river. Eladar saves Hardred’s life, when he drowns. This is just the beginning of the journey that brings these men together, throughout the story in adventures, danger, rescues, love and loss.

Well, this is a very complex story that is just the beginning of a fantastic series. There are many characters that we follow as they journey across land and sea: each on their own journey, but crossing paths with other characters that will affect their lives. The story begins with Hardred and Alnas working as guards on a caravan, when they come across a boat stuck in the river. They lend a hand to Oberas, but Hardred disappears while chopping down an underwater tree. We are then introduced to Eladar, a water elf, who is waiting for his brother’s friend. He pulls Hardred from the water and revives him, just as Talon and his cousin Beryl show up. They join up briefly with the land caravan and water caravan and we discover Oberas and Eladar are previously acquainted. We then head straight to the town where they are all heading, Ardock, and young Rion who wants to be an apprentice trader with Oberas.

This story jumps from character to character, but shows it clearly. It also jumps from place to place. so we could be in the forest, water or town depending on who we visit next. Although we learn some of what is happening, there is much left unsaid. Just who are Talon and Beryl? Just who is their Enemy? What is going on? This story is just what it says it is, the prelude. We get to know the characters, some of their back stories and we know that something evil is coming, but we don’t know what roles they will play in the future. We become invested in the characters, as we discover more about them. But, we are left with the mystery of why they are so important. There is danger, rescues, escapes, death, loss, fear, anger, happiness, developing love and young crushes.

This isn’t the sort of story to read if you want something light and easy to read. There are many threads to this story that twist and twine around the characters. There are also many more characters that we meet who will probably also be important to future books and there are three more to come. This story is a bit confusing. especially with names, as some characters have more than one. You also begin to wonder where the story is going, because it is complex with the different species of humanoids; water elves, wood elves, humans, Amontirs, the Enemy and nothing seems to get answered. This is just the beginning and it is a book that is a great story, but it isn’t a story that is finished. Not by a long shot. There is much more to come before we have all the answers and it will be littered with danger, loss, hope and love.

I will recommend this story to those who love high fantasy, a complex in-depth storyline, new budding relationships and an ending that leaves you wanting more.