Domain of Illusion by E A Sunden

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Domain of Illusion by E A Sunden

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Ethereal killers, a divided royal family – can the intrigue of evil be defeated in this short fantasy? Probably, but I'll leave you with this commendable, tidy little volume to discover.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 148 Date: July 2008
Publisher: Inkwater Press
ISBN: 978-1592993628

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Something is rotten in the valley of Tsura. Not long since putting their best-loved princess in the crypt, the royal family loses its patriarch to an assassination. Surprisingly, the three main Emperors remaining split up. The eldest leaves his baby daughter and seeks the murderer(s), and his younger brothers – twins – create a divided target by sharing the realm and said daughter's upbringing. And all the while the evil seems to be a particular kind of spooky shadowy vapour…

What exactly the brothers are ruling over seems at times to come across awkwardly – it appears to be a singular valley with even a generation beyond the book's opening only two villages to its name – but I am seriously going some to pick nits from this.

Beyond the dusky cover and dark opening there is quite a colourful little fantasy. The author has turned her hand to writing having graduated in health promotion, and then again in persuasion theory. So not only has she already sold even me gym membership, she has sold me with her bijou world here, and the intrigues that follow her set-up. This could have been a very simplistic tale of battling brothers, but instead a lot of craft has gone on into putting clues, elements and more throughout the book that come relevant – with varying degrees of surprise – towards the end.

There is an ageless quality to the tale, even dare I say it a Shakespearean feel at times – hence my opening sentence. It covers very recognisable ground at times – the mysterious relationships, the training montage, the labyrinth – but can at will best such regularities for something a little more individualistic.

The style might be a little florid for some – with a preponderance of adjectives, that are too evidently discarded when the dialogue brings a different feel to things – but beyond that and the awkward, disposable poem I enjoyed the telling as much as the tale.

In the grand scheme of things the who-dun-wot certainly won't be the biggest mystery in the world, but this remains a non-strenuous fantasy for those who dabble with any regularity with the genre. I notice a sequel is planned, but in this age of million-word minimum sagas, this little story is very welcome.

We at the Bookbag must thank the author for sending us her book.

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