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Test of a Prince (The Vale of Shade Trilogy Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

T. L. Barrett , Curtis Hale

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Book Description

A Curse lies over all of Jotunheim.

When Prince Arden sets out to do something about it, his outer form becomes monstrously twisted. With the help of his love, Arriana, and their plucky and diminutive friends, Tuckus and Oakia, the Prince sets out to gather old heroes, tried and true, to their side.

The Question: Will the help of a one-handed fisherman and a drug-addled swordsman be enough to begin the perilous trek needed to the darkest spot in the Nine Worlds: The Vale of Shade?

Test of a Prince is the first volume in a dark fantasy epic.

Will you take the Test?

Product Description

About the Author

T. L. Barrett lives in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom with his lovely wife and sons. He writes weird fiction in the genres of horror, fantasy and humor.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 600 KB
  • Print Length: 262 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009G9ZKN8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,152,276 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy done right 11 April 2012
By R. Creaser - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Story telling is, at its core, the ability to weave a story populated with relatable characters in a relatable world. The author must connect the reader to his characters, to inspire fascination with their exploits and concern over their misadventures. This is most easily accomplished by creating characters who are like us, or, at the very least, like the way we wish we could be.
This is a task that is complicated by introducing us to realms of fantasy. It is about crafting a place where magic rules, good and evil are clearly defined and nobody spells their names quite right.

In the literary world one book is often compared against another and both of those often find their roots in folktales. As such it is a literary sphere where the characters are often defined in broad, usually stereotypical ways. The true genius behind successful authors and their less heralded kin is providing readers with something familiar enough to be engaging but different enough to want us to read more. Such is the case with Waterford, Vermont author T.L. Barrett's first book Test of a Prince.

The book transports readers to the realm of Jotunheim, a mystical place whose human history is but the thinnest ring on the great world tree. It is a place where the Gods have influence on the worlds of men and beast and fantastic creatures exist just outside the mortal realms.
As if often the case in heroic fantasy, the book begins by introducing us to an unfamiliar place in suitable, bite-sized chunks. The adventure begins in an isolated fishing town where the aged hero Lodon One-Arm dispenses justice as Reeve of the seafolk. Barrett proceeds in turn to bring together the various members of the brave company, presenting glimpses of their world in careful, logical fashion.

It would be easy for an author of fantasy to overwhelm the reader with a complex history of all things Jotunheim, dissecting the local politics to distraction and otherwise presenting us with a tiresome encyclopedic introduction. Barrett chooses to go the other route, filling us in as we go along, letting us absorb the state of affairs as they influence his cast of characters.

And such a cast it is! Brave warriors whose wounds run deep below the skin, a lovely warrior maiden, a cross-dressing satyr, the titular accursed prince and a husband and wife team of clever Mindans -- a diminutive race of people cursed to their present size from their once mighty stature as giants.
Prince Arden has been overthrown from his rightful place atop the throne. Insidious forces of evil have corrupted the kingdom, turning Jotunheim's priests into acolytes of a great and terrible evil. More dire still, the very curse has begin to warp the people of the realm, the good prince among them.
Admittedly Test of a Prince is only the first book in a two part series. Having crafted the work in this manner, Barrett avoids the need to overcomplicate his story line. He also employs a somewhat unique device in largely avoiding a clear definition of the mastermind behind the curse of Nod. Indeed, we are treated to only a cursory glimpse of Malvane, the wicked puppet master behind the realm's malaise.

And yet this does nothing to unravel the story. Indeed, the evil that Malvane has wrought becomes all the more terrible because its influence is so widespread, adopted by the very institutions that should have prevented its rise -- church and crown. Malvane may be the catalyst but the fuel to his wicked machine comes from the baser nature of humanity.

Bit by bit the band of heroes uncovers the depth of the malevolence. It's presence in a temple of healing, the corruption of the nobles and the consummation of all things evil in the lakeside town of Draydock where only the children have escaped its taint.
Any work of fiction, fantasy or otherwise, will be colored by the experiences of the reader. Those who disdain the genres of fantasy or science fiction may find Test of a Prince not to their liking. It wouldn't be because of any particular shortcomings of the author, however. It's simply a matter of taste and preference.

To me, the true measure of a book is how much I care about the characters, whether wishing them well or ill, and whether or not I hope it to be the sort of book I have difficulty putting it down. Certainly there are no small number of books that, once put down are incredibly difficult to pick back up again. I'm looking at you Isaac Asimov.

As I drew near the end of the book, realizing that only 60 pages lay between me and its inevitable conclusion, I found myself despairing that I would not discover a cure to the plague of evil that covers the land. I would not learn if Prince Arden can reverse his curse or, at the very least, take his enemies down with him.

Barrett has taken a genre filled with stereotypes, used some, discarded the rest and woven a tale that is enduring in its own rights. In a genre crowded with mediocrity he has created something memorable and fresh, even if it's only half-way finished.

Barrett's follow-up novel and the conclusion of the series will come in the form of The Vale of Shade due out later this year.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very capturing, loved it. 11 Jan. 2012
By Renee Belanger - Published on
When I started reading the book, I wasn't sure where it was going. Then as I got to know each of the characters, I couldn't put it down! Fascinating story that made me feel like I was there. Great read and I would definitely check out another book by this author again.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Love of Reading 20 Feb. 2012
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is richly entertaining to read with well developed characters. It posesses the classic features of an epic without being too predictable. Once audiences get beyond the first few pages, they will not be able to put it down. With an admirable hero, beautiful temptress, and wise advisors that any Baggins would envy, this book is a great way to spend a rainy day.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy with class... 30 Jan. 2012
By Craig Saunders - Published on
T.L. Barrett does everything with a fantasy novel you'd want, and more. He's really got the goods.

I don't read much fantasy outside of Martin, Pratchett and Gemmell, so finding a comparison is hard for me. This isn't any of those, for sure, but feel-wise, it put me in mind of David Eddings - warm reading, something to get your teeth into on a cold winter's night, with more of a bite to it than Eddings.

It's gruesome in parts, romantic in others. Violence and magic exist side by side, with human and humane creatures pitched against fey and grotesque foes...sometimes it's hard to tell, from a glance, which is which.

If I don't like a book, I don't read it. If I don't read it, I don't leave a review. I loved this unreservedly. It really hit the right note with me. It's got the right mix, the right feel - the world building is second to none, the characters are complex and interesting and most importantly, I felt, sympathetic and engaging.

There's no point in trying to find anything negative to say, but I'm looking forward to the second installment in the series, and I'll read more from T.L. as it becomes available.

*shrugs* - I enjoyed it a whole lot - can't say anymore than that.

Craig Saunders, Author of Rain and Spiggot.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Pass This One By, Fantasy Fans 10 Jan. 2012
By Shnazzymomma - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am picky about my reading and usually only invest my scarce free time in the highly recommended. This was a leap on a relatively new author and it was well worth the gamble. The story is original with well developed and likable characters (even the creepy, evil ones!) Expect unexpected developments and a dash of humor. The real test? Can you start reading this book and then stop to meet basic human needs before devouring it to the last page?
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