Review: Cephrael’s Hand, A Pattern of Shadow and Light: Book One by Melissa McPhail

Today I am pleased to present a new author, Melissa McPhail with her epic fantasy novel Cephrael’s Hand: A Pattern of Shadow & Light, Book 1.

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Title:  Cephrael’s Hand
Author:  Melissa McPhail
Series: A Pattern of Shadow & Light, Book 1
Publisher:  Outskirts Press
Fomat:  Paperback and eBook
Pages:  654
ISBN:  978-1432759674
Stars:  4

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About the book:  “All things are composed of patterns…” And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:

In Alorin…three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor’s brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D’Lacourte’s mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he’ll have to find him…

In the kingdom of Dannym…the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord…

In the Nadori desert…tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them.

My Review:

Fantasy reads are an interesting genre to review: so many elements are integral to a fantasy that “works” versus one that is just good.  Tolkien and Martin both are masters of the genre, creating worlds that are different yet similar, with language and characters who share motivations with humans: love, greed, anger, self-preservation.   What separates those masters from this author is their attention to detail throughout the entire work.  After a rather slow and muddled start, Melissa McPhail found her footing, and the story began to achieve the potential for dramatic and engaging action, intriguing characters, and world-building that is unique and memorable.

The first chapters of the book should have, in my opinion, been edited with an eye for flow and setting up the story; not quite a fatal flaw, but I do think there are readers who won’t continue past that rough patch.  Further on in the story, as the characters are introduced and developed, with a series of protagonists that each has a unique trait and style, the author has managed to  balance the influx of multiple characters with a narrative style that allows them to develop and fix in the story process.

This isn’t a story without flaws: there are some fairly glaring misused words, there was overly flowery description in some places, there were flashbacks that weren’t clearly grounded, and some of the internal dialogue from characters was just unrealistic: but even with those issues – this is ultimately a very readable book, with an interesting perspective, new races and planets, and well defined characters with strong points of view that are expressed with a clarity and precision that is a rare treat in any genre.  A strongly persuasive start to a series that can only improve as the story progresses.

**I received an eBook copy from author for purpose of honest review with the IOB Tours.  I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility. 

Discover about the author, including where to follow her by reading more:

About the Author:  Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. A long-time student of philosophy, she is passionate about the Fantasy genre because of its inherent philosophical explorations.

Ms. McPhail lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Cephrael’s Hand is the multiple award-winning first novel in her series A Pattern of Shadow and Light.

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