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*Children of the Grove: Lords of Darkness, Lords of Light Book 1* by Robert D. Halmo- young adult book review

Children of the Grove: Lords of Darkness, Lords of Light Book 1
by Robert D. Halmo
Grades 9-12 262 pages Authorhouse May 2001 Paperback    

Children of the Grove might seem like yet another story based on the ancient elemental powers of Earth, Air, Water and Fire at first glance. However, within just a few pages into the novel, readers will find a unique tale about to unfold.

Tree spirits and forest creatures, gifted individuals, mystical jewels and powerful weapons creep onto each page. Huge Sluaghs, creatures strong enough to tear a tree down without tools, and the wondrous spirits known as the Niyyim are some of the unique creations the author releases in his book. “Glimmer” is an ancient Earth power that can be summoned only by a few trained individuals; it is this power that sustains the barriers between the worlds, and there are evil-hearted creatures willing to draining the Glimmer to get what they want.

The World of Men is breached; creatures from the Neather Reach are seeping through, affecting the Spirit Realm. Ruhvaurog, an ancient enemy, is gaining power, while those who could oppose him appear to be weakening. Two of the most powerful wizards - Aor and his love, Einael - have gone missing, leaving the others without guidance. Meanwhile, Alabastor must attempt to prepare Eri and Nithell, two young brothers, for a future that holds overwhelming destiny and epic battles. These two main characters are an excellent example of the restless impatience and impetuousness of youth. Though the boys are of both worlds, neither world feels like their “home” and they yearn to find someplace where they will no longer be the revered misfits.

I found both excellent, tasty scenes that excited the writer in me and those that did not sit as well. One of my favorite scenes in the book is where the Asterim gives birth to her twin sons. Unexpectedly toward the birthing, readers discover that her boys are born from the Ruisme’s tree. Meanwhile, forest creatures gather about them in a noisy crowd to celebrate her sons’ birth. One of the best scenes I have read in some time can be found around page 131. Here a tortured and bitter creature known as Grithicant is released from his prison, but his heart is not yet healed. His bitterness and anger stem from the pain and misconception that he was abandoned to his tormentors, and this has grown into a kind of madness. His slow understanding of the world outside of himself thaws some of the bitterness that hardened his heart. Eri’s sacrifice allowed Grithicant to see that he is valued, his life matters, and he can make a difference to better the world. This scene realistically resembles the healing process that a victim of prolonged abuse goes through.

My least favorite scene occurs in chapter three during Aor’s battle with the Naegefel beast on the bridge. It is far too similar to Gandalf’s battle with the Bolrag in Tolkien’s tales, right down to the “You shall not pass!” – in this book, “You may not pass on my guard!” There are also Elven cloaks given to the boys that may appear to mimic the cloaks Frodo and his friends received at Lothlorien. However, I have seen similar scenes in other fantasy books as well. Another turn-off is the overuse of the words “the two adventurers." The words are used a minimum of once per page for at least two successive chapters. Thankfully, this only lasts for a few chapters and does not noticeably reappear in the book again.

Author Robert Halmo has an unusual style of writing with has an older feel to it, faintly resembling a modern Shakespearean style. The words run almost like poetry. The descriptive style Robert employs is certainly a work of art. I found myself slowing down and disappearing into each sentence, being drawn deeper into the novel.

Children of the Grove is the first book of the "Lords of Darkness, Lords of Light" fantasy series and was released in 2001 by 1st Books Library. This fantasy novel is printed on acid-free paper, which will appeal the environmentalist. The 274 pages include a fairly detailed map that readers will be able to use to follow along with the adventures. Children of the Grove closes with a six-page glossary that defines the cast of characters, terms used, names of places, magical items and more.

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