Review: The Gems of Elsana, Book 1: Into the Wildbarrens

Christian Sterling’s upcoming fantasy epic is definetly worth a read! Into the Wildbarrens is Sterling’s first installment in his Gems of Elsana series, and I for one am excited to see where this series is heading!

Sterling has crafted a vividly detailed world. Readers can clearly get the sense that he has every nook and cranny of Elsana etched into his mind. He has also created a motly crew of characters for us to follow along an epic quest.

The novel is the story of the beginning if the young wizard Falin’s quest to retrieve the titular Gems of Elsana. This quest is a right of passage for any wizard born into the world of Elsana, retrieving all of the gems will allow for Falin to come into his full power. Along for his journey are his companions – the “Champions” – a sage – Melquin the Healer, a drak – Carthon the Warrior, an elf – Nym the Assassin, and the Mandorian Prince – Bossador. These companions – one from each of the kingdoms within the Crown of Elsana – are traditional however, the first hint that all might not be well within the world of Elsana is the inclusion of two outlaws in the party. These additions, Red of the Freelands and Jimbuah a skully, are brought on because they will be able to act as guides through the treacherous Wildbarrens, somewhere that few ever venture. Readers quickly discover that a war between the wizards and the warlocks – the light and the dark – is brewing and threatening to interfere with Falin and his companions journey, and with the world of Elsana as they know it.

As I mentioned earlier, I am excited to see where this series goes. Sterling is off to a commendable start with this installment. There are some elements about this novel that feel familiar, or formulaic, but I think that is the nature of the epic fantasy genre – a quest being undertaken by a group of previously unrelated companions is a plot that is in very good company. Sterling’s addition to the world of epic fantasy is well written and engaging – I particularly love the character of Jimbuah, and any scene he takes an active role in is excellent!

While probably not an ideal novel for the novice epic fantasy reader, dedicated fans of the genre are in for a treat!

3.5/5 stars

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