I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:
Title: The Silver Portal (Weapons of Power Book 1)
Author: David J. Normoyle
Release Date: August 9th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Words: 100,000 (about that)
They weren’t chosen. They aren’t prepared. Now they are the only hope.
Millennia ago, magic flowed through the world like air. Godlike mages ruled, and those without power became slaves, subservient to the whims of magic-users. To right the world, an enchanted barrier was created to form Mageles, a land free of magic. Over time magic slowly returned and now the Lord Protector wants to return Mageles to an era where magical supremacy will once again dominate.
They are five: reluctant warrior, street rat, aspiring adventurer, conflicted pacifist, and pampered noble girl. Five misfit youths who were never meant to receive the weapons of power. Only together do they stand a chance against the forces arrayed against them. Separated by a continent and pursued by magic-wielding clerics, the weaponbearers must find each other−but first they must find themselves.
My First Thoughts:
I’m always in the mood to read a good fantasy, especially one that focuses on young characters. Epic journeys and coming of age stories are always interesting to read, they exhibit well thought out character development and they have wisdom that can enlighten the readers as well. This story seemed to have all these elements, so I was excited when the author asked for a review, and I couldn’t wait to begin reading!
I haven’t done this section in a while, just because it’s hard sometimes to really it do it justice. However, since The Silver Portal has so many things going on, I thought this might be of some help.
In this story we have five main characters, all of them different forms of misfits, all of them trying to find out who they are. Twig is a young girl who knew only of the streets and the cruel view of the world, but as the story progresses she tries to understand the world for ‘shelterperson’. Her concepts of morality and what it means to help people are very black and white; she doesn’t understand or see the grey areas. However, she begins to learn that the world isn’t just black and white, and how her actions affect other people.
Lukin is a young boy trying too hard to be a man, and he believes that he has a better chance of becoming one if he acts like an adventurer. He’ll stop at nothing to live his life like the heroes in adventure stories, knowing that he gets himself into dangerous situations, but having a hard time realizing just how real that danger is. As the story progresses, Lukin sees just how different real life is from the stories he’s heard. And as he travels with others, he starts to make decisions by thinking of his companions, and not only his own wishes.
Mortlebee is another young boy, but instead of wanting to be a man, he struggles with the society that he grew up in. He is the embodiment of every teenager raised in a strict religious society, trying to figure out who they are and what they actually believe. Out of all the characters, I believe, that he has the most inner conflict. Every character has inner turmoil, but Mortlebee is struggling with every ideal that people raised him to believe. He’s constantly conflicting with his religious teachings and readers can really see his struggle as he tries to determine for himself the best way to live with what life throws his way.
Suma is a noble girl born in the wrong role. She wants everything that is outside of her reach and she is another character that has a hard time separating reality from fiction. Like many other characters in Suma’s role, their view of the world is limited and they know only what they’ve read in books. For Suma, what she believed to be reality was gravely mistaken and she has a hard time dealing with the fact that what she believed in isn’t completely true. She, like Lukin, must learn that life isn’t exactly as it appears in the story books they’ve grown up reading.
Finally, Simeon is another young man who finds himself breaking away from the society that he was raised in. Belonging to a culture of warriors, where genders are extremely divided and all concepts of family is different, Simeon doesn’t quite fit. From birth he was different from his tribemates, and it isn’t until an extreme even occurs that he realizes just how wrong everything is. Stripped of all forms of family and friendship, Simeon must find knew friends and family, and just what it means to be with those people.
The Silver Portal is a classic Coming of Age story lead by youths who are just trying to find themselves on their epic journey. None of them wanted the responsibility of the weapons of power, and some would rather cast them aside, but none can say that their weapons didn’t change them. Some fight with the roles they were born in, trying to break free, while others try to assert themselves into a role they believed they wanted. There is internal conflict in our heroes as they grow, some trying to understand what it means to live with their companions, while others are trying to find out for themselves what they believe in.
This fantasy was a lot of fun to read! The Silver Portal isn’t a story that I would call a hard-core fantasy. Instead it was a soft fantasy that focused more on the characters and their actions, then the overall world around them.
The world building wasn’t lacking at all, but I noticed that there wasn’t as much as many other fantasy novels that I’ve read. There was just enough to give the reader an idea of where the characters were and what kind of conditions they grew up in, and how those conditions affected the characters’ personalities. I would have like to have read more about the various religions mentioned in the book. All that I gathered on the religions was that one was basically the teachings of the Good Samaritan, another was pacifism, one was hardly mentioned, and the last religion was completely militaristic. There was some information on the first, more about the teachings of the second, but there wasn’t really much about the last two groups and I found that a bit disappointing. If I had known more about the ideals of the last group especially, then maybe I would’ve understood the reasoning behind their actions and what drove them. Hopefully more will be disclosed in the sequel.
When I first read about each of the main heroes, I was very hesitant about their characters. I wasn’t quite sure how I would like, but as the story progressed I really grew attached to them. The story wasn’t very even on how much was told from each of their perspectives. You get a lot of Lukin’s story, but very little comparatively from Simeon or Suma. If I had read more of Suma’s story, then maybe I would have liked her character a little better. As it stands now, I like Suma, but not as much as the others and I believe it’s because I haven’t read much from her. By the end of the first book, I find that Suma has had the least amount of development and she still seems to view parts of the world like she’s read in her books. I know that we’ll get more from her in the second novel, but it was a little disappointing that I felt that Suma didn’t grow as much as the others. Other than Suma, I felt like the other characters did a lot of growing and it was really interesting to read about their turmoil and what they learned. I believe the most interesting changes came from Twig and Mortlebee. Twig’s changes came more with her thoughts as she sought answers to questions she’s never asked before. While Mortlebee had plenty growth shown in his thoughts, which then translated to his actions. It was heartwarming, in a way, to read about his mistakes, fumbling, and reactions as the story continues. He was probably the character that I connected with the most.
The one thing that I found to be the weakest was the unfolding of the plot by the end of the story. In the beginning we have essentially five stories going on at once as the author establishes the characters. Then one character sets off to find the others, and most of the book at that point is spent trying to get all of the weapon holders together. They have no real reason to join each other than the roles they’d been forced into. There’s some good relationship building between the heroes, at least for the ones that first teamed up. But towards the end I felt like the story was a bit rushed, like the author wanted to wrap up the first book so that he could start working on the next one. Some readers might not actually catch this, but that’s what the last eighty pages or so read like to me. I can’t honestly explain why it felt so rushed, maybe because there was a lot more dialogue and telling the readers what was happening instead of showing. The only thing that I can say is that it felt like a step or two was skipped in the story to get to the end, and it kind of messed up the flow for me. The main conflict, I felt, happened too suddenly and it was a bit jarring to read. The ending was a bit abrupt as well, which the author acknowledged at least, and may cause readers to feel a little odd at the end. I can’t really describe how I felt, I was disappointed at the ending but also wanting to read further to see what happened, it was an odd feeling for sure.
I suggest this book to any young reader, especially for those who feel like they don’t quite fit in. They may just connect with one, or more, of the main heroes and really gain something by reading about their trials. For any reader trying to get into the fantasy genre, this is a good book to start out with. It isn’t hardcore fantasy, but it’s a good book in the genre to get first-time readers’ feet wet, so to speak. The story isn’t really complicated, it’s pretty straight forward, and will be easy for those not familiar with the genre to follow along. For any fantasy lover, this story may be a lot of fun to read. It’s nothing like Game of Thrones, but it’s a fun fantasy that tells a story through every main characters’ perspective. The world building is also pretty impressive for being brief, and Mageles is definitely an interest world to read about.
If any reader isn’t comfortable with strong religious themes, especially themes that involve questioning established religion, this book may not be for them. While none of the mentioned religions are like the major religions of the world, they may make some religious readers uncomfortable. In this book only one religion’s ideology is delved into some. However, the actions of the other religion may disturb some readers to the point of not continuing.
The Silver Portal was a story that I wasn’t quite expecting. There was a lot of set up, which is understandable when you have five different characters trying to come together. The flow of the story is pretty good for most of the story until it reaches the final conflict. For me, things at the end happened to quickly and it threw me of a little. I wouldn’t say that the plot was weak, this story has a really good plot, but it felt a little rushed by the end. Some readers may pick up on it like I did, but others might not, really it depends on the reader. Overall, The Silver Portal is a soft fantasy with a solid story and it was enjoyable to read. The ending was probably my least favorite part of the book, just because it’s so abrupt and there were too many threads left loose. I understand that this is the first book of a trilogy, but I felt like the ending kind of forces readers to continue with the story, which isn’t normally something that I enjoy in a book series. With that said, I am looking forward to reading the next book to see how our young heroes grow and develop, and to read more of the world that the author built for them.
If the last bit of the story didn’t feel rushed or if the ending wasn’t so abrupt, I would have given this book a 4 out of 5, because it really is a good story so far. However, those two things really threw me off and left me a little unsettled.