Monday, June 30, 2014

COYER Book Review: Jaunten

(see my main Clean Out Your eReader post)

Jaunten, by Honor Raconteur

I had actually read this before; as I read, I kept thinking, gee, this seems awfully familiar, then I peeked ahead to the end and realized yes, I've read this before. Not sure how it ended up back on my Kindle marked "new"; probably from when I was having trouble with the Send to Kindle and tried de-registering and re-registering my Kindle. So I skimmed through the rest of the book just to refresh my memory, and here's my review:

Jaunten is the story of a teenage boy, Garth, who flees from his native country, where magic is forbidden and mages and their families are put to death, to a neighboring country where he can be trained in magic. Along the way he becomes a Jaunten, one of a small group of people who have generations of accumulated knowledge passed down by blood, bonds with the only living Nreese (a unicorn-like creature), has some adventures, and eventually finds himself in the position to help other mages from his homeland.

The story starts out strong, with Garth on his journey encountering a dying man and receiving from him the powers of a Jaunten so that he can complete his journey and carry out the man's task of delivering a message to the king. I was especially intrigued by the concept of Jaunten, families who, affected by the aftermath of a magical battle, pass all their accumulated knowledge down to their descendants, and who can also transfer their knowledge by an exchange of blood to someone unrelated to them. I also liked the idea of a boy with magical power fleeing from a land where magic is forbidden.

Things kind of bog down when the story gets into the details of daily life at magic school. I think tweens and younger teen readers (ages 8-14) who enjoy Harry Potter would like this part, but for me the conflict and forward movement in the story fell flat at this point.

The writing style, while clear and readable, is also very young for my tastes. Again, I think this is something that would appeal more to tweens and younger teens. The tense constantly shifts between past and present; the pattern seems to be that Garth's thoughts and observations are in present tense while the action of the story is in past tense. It's a little jarring, but I can see the sense in it.

Younger readers who like Harry Potter, and older readers who enjoy middle grade/YA and light traditional fantasy will enjoy this book. It's the first in a long series, so if you like this book, there's lots more to follow :)

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