Silver Beasts by Emma Sterner-Radley is a fantasy adventure aimed at the Young Adult market. As the oldest Young Adult I know, I would suggest that it is an excellent read if you love fantasy, whatever your age. However, don’t be surprised that the main characters are all in their late teens. I must also say upfront, this is not a Sterner-Radley romance, and if that is what you are looking for, then this book is not for you. It is a delightful, engaging adventure story set in a fantasy world.
The story is about four eighteen-year old’s that have been specially selected for two years of training at the Hall of Explorers in central Cavarra. Each teenager represents one of the home counties that make up the country: Hale is from the Woodsfolk, Sabrina from the cold North, Avelynne from The Peaks, and Eleksander from the Lakeland.
The importance of their training becomes apparent when we find that Cavarra has a growing population that is eating more than can be grown. The land is becoming barren, and the country is plagued by Silver Beasts who are wasp-like creatures that have developed and mutated, with silver metallic skins, by eating the magic used by the people and thus turning the beasts into killing machines.
The group is being trained as explorers to find a new land that the people can settle, and thus, they have the hopes of Cavarra on their shoulders. Their training is difficult. The group deals with becoming experts in both physical and classroom type subjects such as map-making. They experience a multitude of problems. The personalities and sexualities of eighteen-year-olds are still developing, and that is certainly the case with this group. When you add to these several political issues such as differences between their superiors as to what they should be searching for, who should benefit from what they find, and the strange happenings around them, then we are all set for a spell-binding journey.
The four teenagers are, without exception, able to draw you in and get you either cheering them on or bemoaning their attitude – as you would with any teenager. Sterner-Radley has produced four excellent characters, and each grows and changes as the story jogs along.
Hale of the Woodsfolk is very self-involved at the start and almost preens at his ability to get the girl. As a maid says, ‘he is dangerously delicious.’ There are two women in the group, and he fancies his chances. I shall say no more! I loved how he is such a contrast to the others; he opens his mouth before considering what he is saying and how it will affect people, and as the story progresses, you can see him learning how to change that.
Sabrina is from the North and has pale skin and white hair. She is highly independent and self-contained. She is very open about liking ladies, and whilst sharing a room with Avelynne they become close.
Avelynne is the Peaks ruler’s daughter, a Countess, and she has a secret. She is the weakest both physically and in their written work but over her journey, we see that her strength is in her ability to bring the group together. She is not sure about her sexuality and is obviously attracted to both Hale and Sabrina.
Finally, Eleksander from Lakeland is dark-skinned with black hair in braids. Whereas he is the strongest in magic of the group, he appears to be quiet. That is until he voices strong opinions about the social and ecological issues in Cavarra. He shares a room with Hale and shows that he can be very astute and aware of other’s emotions. It may be that he is asexual and how this will play out in the future will be interesting.
The Writing Style
This is the first episode of an adventure series and moves along at a pace. Sterner-Radley has an easy writing style, and this really suits the story as we face the problems that the group face.
The world-building is so good, and the teenagers give us a young person’s view of it in many respects. They show for example how the current resource situation is taught, and they can repeat it by rote. But does that make it right? What makes the story so good is that you explore things along with the group and get it wrong when they do. It keeps you engaged as a reader, and if you are like me, enthralled.
Without a doubt, the world-building is exceptional. Those Silver Beasts and what they are, what they do, and how they came to be is so well thought through. For me, though, the best thing about the book is how the reader is drawn along with the predicaments of the teenagers, whether it is emotional, personal, sexual, or something caused by external forces.
There are none except that I finished the book far too quickly and wanted more!
This book introduces us to Cavarra, and the group of teenagers called the Second Wave. It sets us on our way as they train to save their land, and I want to know what is coming next. Silver Beasts is going to be one of those re-read books for me. Each time a new book in the series is released I will read all the previous books. Start writing, please!
Excerpt from Silver Beasts by Emma Sterner-Radley
“That’s Countess Avelynne Ironhold,” Myllie amended. She then missed Avelynne’s pained noise at the mention of her title because she was busy adding, “And I’m her maid. We ain’t used to predators stalking courtyards.”
The last sentence was said in a disdainful whisper.
Avelynne’s stomach dropped. She waved a hand, trying to find the words to mend the injured situation. “There’s no need for the title! We’ll all be together here for the next two years. And after that, it’ll only be the four of us in charge of a large, complicated longship so—”
“You four and a band of rough sailors and some physician,” Myllie interrupted.
“Yes,” Avelynne said. “Thank you, Myllie. Anyway, my point is that perhaps formalities should be disposed of between us?”
There were smiles and nods all around so Avelynne gathered the courage to step close to Sabina. “And, for what it’s worth, while we’re unused to having a predator as a companion, I know it is a common custom up north.” She cast a glance at the animal. “Your Snowtiger is simply magnificent. I’m sure we are all eager to draw it.”
“Draw it and perhaps one day wrestle with it?” Hale said.
Sabina looked from Avelynne to Hale. The Snowtiger was close by her side now and following her gaze.
“I don’t know about wrestling him. But he does make a good drawing model. I must have hundreds of sketches of him.”
“Can I see some one day?” Avelynne asked.
Sabina played with her braid. “Aye, why not?”
“So, the second wave is made up of two lasses and two lads?” Hale said. “Good! All efficient teams need balance.”
“Unless someone in the group doesn’t count themselves as either of the genders,” Eleksander suggested tentatively.
Hale wasn’t deterred. “That would make for an even more diverse group. Nature always works better when there’s diversity.”
Get This Book On Amazon
Book 1 of Mapmaking Magicians Series
Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781912684311
Publisher: Heartsome Publishing
Emma Sterner-Radley Online
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