I was taking some friendly teasing the other day about how I always complain in reviews that fantasy books are too long and boring because they are repetitive. “Have you ever read a fantasy book that you really like? A lot?”
I have. A few years ago, I read the novel Heroes Arise with my son. When we finished, he asked if there was a sequel–a sign that he’d liked the book.
Just about anyone might enjoy Heroes Arise as the story deals with honor and loyalty, but for fans of fantasy, this is a good fit. The main characters, except for one human (Rheemar) are ‘kren’—sort of human reptiles.
Gundack, a desert kren is traveling to seek a blessing on his impending marriage from the spirit of his murdered wife (Talla). After he meets the human Rheemar, they, along with other desert kren are attacked by mountain kren. The mountain kren are led by the remorseless Tarr, the raider. Both Gundack and Rheemar have a vendetta to seek against Tarr—it was he who killed Gundack’s wife and who has either murderer or mutilated Rheemar’s sister. Yet Rheemar and Gundack are from very different worlds—whether Gundack should trust the human is open to question.
The kren and the human, along with fellow kren and sandship lizards, brave poisonous web-threaders and dangerous terrain to get to “Tharda’s Bowl” where the spirit of Gundack’s wife can be contacted. Whether Gundack should trust Rheemar is always open to question as the action of the novel shows Rheemar to be suspect.
While Heroes Arise has some minor faults—a bit of odd dialogue is one—the world that Hill creates is carefully constructed. Moving through it is an adventure. The novel is just 200 pages, so it meets that magic marker that teachers often require of a book for class assignments. Yet, there’s none of the dreadfully long and boring repetition that is the hallmark of fantasy fiction. It’s a quick read.
I read Heroes Arise because I met the publisher—a small press owner who is encouraging writers by publishing their works—at a conference. I love being able to support unknown—or newly emerging—authors, so I bought the book, read it aloud with my son, and donated it to the collection at COHS, which is available to anyone who has an Ontario City Library card. Now that I’ve been challenged as a ‘fantasy hater,’ I may have to scrap together a few pennies and buy another copy or two and add it to book talks.