Thursday, December 20

The Secrets of the Vanmars: Book Review

The Secrets of the Vanmars

Elisabeth Wheatley

Chengalera Press
Argetallam Saga #2
May 15th 2012
Young Adult | Fantasy
Official Blurb - 
After her adventures with the Key of Amatahns, sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam returns home to find Brevia on the brink of war with a neighboring country, Stlaven. Her foster-father and even Saoven—a brave young elf warrior—think it will be safe at the castle where Janir grew up. However, while trying to unravel a looming mystery, Karile—self-taught wizard and Janir’s self-appointed best friend—becomes certain that there is danger in the mountains surrounding Janir’s childhood home and that it has something to do with Stlaven’s most powerful family, the Vanmars…

I was often confused during this book. For instance, I couldn't understand the relationship between Lucan and Janir. There were some tidbits related but they didn't seem enough to paint a picture. There are several other things that never made much sense to me. Thankfully confusion was the worst I suffered in this book. It is fairly well written especially considering the age of the author. I think this is a good sign of books to come. The story is very imaginative. I did struggle to understand all the strange names and terminology.

Sometimes Janir will think or say the strangest things. It usually left me wondering where the author picked up that particular saying. There is this point where Janir describes the width of a landing in sword lengths. Her character doesn't strike me as a warrior. So why would that be the way her mind measures distance? Another relationship that needed a bit more development was that between Janir and Saoven. Saoven seems to have the emotional abilities of a stick. Then very unnexpectedly he seems to have very strong feelings. What seemed especially odd was that Janir only pages before seemed to come to the same unnexpected bout of strong feelings but then when faced with a return from her swain she acts like it is burdensome. As if she has to turn down some overly friendly admirer. I just felt that a bit more development would have smoothed the transition. Saoven is a complete mystery. There is very little said in this book about his kind, the Elves. I am not really sure what he is capable of and what is not considered proper for him to do. There was almost no time spent getting to know him in this book. As such I wasn't really emotionally drawn to or phased by his revelations. I do think that most if not all of these confusions could have been avoided had I read the first book. Surely they were explained in depth amongst those pages.

I am not sure if Janir is supposed to be something really special but if that is the case she sure needs some more growth. She is too weak both physically and mentally. More steel in her will would go a long way.

Karile doesn't make sense. It seems he is supposed to hold high rank but doesn't act accordingly. He is only fourteen and acts like an out of control little brother. He has an overdeveloped taste for adventure and trouble. Along with no idea of his own mortality and even less respect. It seemed Janir was always babysitting him.

An abrupt ending which wouldn't have worked well without the epilogue. As is it is very daunting and not encouraging as it was doubtless meant to be. I am curious as to how it will work out. But I think there will be hard times ahead for the characters.

Basically it was a good story if a bit confusing. I wouldn't recommend reading this book without having read the first. Too many gaps. I would like to see a smidge more light shone on the characters and their relationships. That way I can build desires for their futures and route for their success.

Violence: Mild

Moment Divine:
"And. . .you are. . .?" Kenzie prompted. I looked away. "Not interested."
"Well, I'm glad this place has the same gorilla-faced morons as my old school," I said, not moving from where I stood."
"Hmm, never mind, just give me yours. Something tells me I could tattoo my number on your forehead and you wouldn't remember to call."
"If every newscaster got scared off by the threat of violence or kidnapping or death, there wouldn't be any news at all. They have to brave a lot to get their stories. Consider yourself practice for the real world."