The Young
by Nicholas John Powter
Balboa Press

"'For the planet will be shaken and the land will be cleansed of all that is not of our master.'"

Violence has never appealed to young Fren Welp. He does not care that his father is Sven, the renowned warrior of the Telfane. Nor does it matter to him that Sven only lifts his sword against creatures such as Blights, who serve the gods of the night. Fren's fondness for peace, in turn, means nothing to the Spawn—minions of wicked Roland. They attack Sven and Fren one night, sending them and their neighbors, the Larka family, into exile. However, they underestimate the bond between father and son and their joint determination to rescue their estranged elder son and brother, who left home to join the Spawn and serve Roland. Love is something evil can never understand. But Fren can, as long as he is willing to change his views about the goals of warfare. He must decide for himself whether self-sacrifice is death in vain or the ultimate triumph of good.

Powter makes confident use of proven tropes, such as sending his characters on a quest at the beginning of the novel. The object of that quest then changes abruptly, as Sven goes from searching for Arkin Larka’s missing wife—whom the Spawn have captured—to attempting to locate Dason, his long-lost older son. It is a shift that might confuse some readers. Once Sven establishes himself on the second quest, he meets many foes, invariably drawing their blue or white blood during confrontations. Red blood seems to be a sign of inherent goodness. It flows only through human characters' veins. Fren is largely obedient to Sven, although he can clearly think for himself. He seldom questions his father's decisions. This helps the narrative progress, though, as the characters move straight from one action to the next. Overall, for readers new to fantasy, this is a competent and accessible introduction.

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