The Namarielle (The Chronicles of Lashai Book 1)
by Julien Jamar
Pub Date 19 Jan 2018
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Hollis studied her face in the light of the campfire. “So, how does a shepherd girl find herself in the Forest of Fondair, heading to the Kiatri to lead a crusade against the Fontre?”
Cassai had untied her braid and was unraveling it. The curls tangled themselves around her small fingers. “Not a crusade, war. Lashai belongs to us. We were a free, peaceful people under the Namarielle. The land flourished, and the people had plenty. The Fontre took everything: our herds, our crops, our money, they even burned down our churches. Why would they do that?”
Her gaze had fallen into the darkness between the trees, and Hollis assumed this was a rhetorical question. "So, we’re going to fight them; our small band of Keepers and anyone else we can find to join us will fight for our Lashai. And if no one else joins, I’ll fight them alone. I just can’t live as their slave. I won’t."
The Namarielle is the perfect addition to any fantasy novel collection. The world is so well imagined in the little details, from the plant life to the layouts of the different cities we visit in the novel. Cassai and Elian's hidden field shows the little light in the world, despite the cruel Fontre closing in. The Borderlands not only provides a look into how the world functions, but the many characters from the town add emotional depth and elevate the stakes beyond that of our protagonists. When we venture outside the safety of this little safe haven, we get to experience the darkness this world has to offer in the Forest of Fondair and the creatures that lurk there. This danger is contrasted by the alluring land of the Fey which keeps the reader on edge, in spite of the beauty of the land that would enrapture any wanderer. The land of the Kiatri offers a look into the destruction this world has faced before the story begins, just another layer of the terror that the Fontre invoke. The world of The Namarielle is fantastically imagined and presented with diction that captures the setting and the clever writing that brings a distinct voice to the story.
The characters, even those who appear for only a brief moment, feel like real people who live in this world. Our protagonists drive the story, from the heroine, Cassai, gaining independence and strength, to the hero, Elian, proving that one's lineage doesn't define him, to the antihero, Hollis, who treads the line of right and wrong. There is real history between the various characters that is not only revealed in well placed flashbacks but also through the dialogue, adding another layer of depth to this deeply imagined story, but the most compelling is between Elian and his older brother, Devilan. The Fontre are a truly terrifying race and the author doesn't shy away from detailing their wretched acts but the bonding moments between the brothers is oddly charming, despite the gruesome nature. One would never think teaching one's brother the most grisly ways to kill something to be an endearing moment, but Julien masterfully made it one of the most captivating scenes of the story.
The Namarielle is a wonderful first entry to what appears to be an epic fantasy series. With such a well developed world and strong characters, the reader is left craving more, on edge with anticipation for the next installment of the Chronicles of Lashai. I'll leave this review with my favorite quote from the book, one that not only summarizes the character of Cassai but the entirety of the novel: "There's always darkness in the world . . . But there's also dawn."