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4.1 out of 5 stars
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Covenants is a fascinating, stellar fantasy novel that will have many readers scrambling to find all of Lorna Freeman's previous novels - but there are no previous Lorna Freeman novels. The book reads as if it is the work of a master craftsman in the genre, but Covenants is in fact the author's first published work. This novel is so engaging that I actually read it twice. The action takes place in a world divided into two kingdoms, one human and the other Faena. The Border kingdom is made up of "magical" creatures of all shapes and sizes - dragons, fairies, sprites, elves, and the like. They once called the land of Iversterre home, and they trounced the human army of Iversterre once before in the not too distant past. Mysterious forces at work threaten to bring war to the land once again.
Rabbit is a regular soldier in the Royal Army of Iversterre, a self-described farmer's son who left the Border in order to see the world; when we meet him, he and his entire troop are lost, right on the outskirts of their base in Freston. Up in the hills, Rabbit encounters a Fae cat named Laurel, and a meal covenant between the two sets the stage for a grand adventure that takes the reader to the heart of the royal palace in Iversterre and then all the way to Elanwryfindyll, a coastal city deep within the Border kingdom itself. Laurel has come from the Borderlands on a mission of peace, and Rabbit soon finds himself playing a crucial role in preventing another war between Iversterre and the land of his birth. A number of secrets are revealed as Rabbit and his fellow troopers accompany Laurel to Iversterre, including the fact that Rabbit is actually a cousin to King Jusson of Iversterre and family to many of the leading members of the human aristocracy. Rabbit holds an even deeper secret than that, though - one that has everything to do with why he left the Border kingdom in the first place.
War appears to be imminent; raiders have plundered the Borderland, killing significant numbers of its sacred residents and turning them into staffs, furniture, armor, and the like. It turns out that significant conspiracies - against both King Jusson of Iversterre and the High Council of the Borderlands - are afoot. The novel takes a number of twists and turns, staying ever fresh, exciting, and unpredictable. Even Rabbit's commanding officers are much more than they seem. The whole novel is in fact filled with all manner of fascinating characters, human as well as "magical," and the complexity of the interpersonal and professional relationships keeps this story zooming along in a highly addictive manner. Things can be confusing a bit early on, especially when Rabbit begins seeing men in their translated (magical) form, but all is made clear when the reader learns just who and what Rabbit actually is. For his part, Rabbit is a remarkably normal, likeable character who wants nothing more than to be an anonymous soldier but is compelled to become a hero by the remarkable circumstances of his heritage.
Covenants easily secures a spot on my list of "must read" fantasy novels. Freeman has written a highly entertaining, refreshingly original story that proceeds at a fast pace, introduces us to dozens of unforgettable characters (not to mention spirits), and takes us to a world brimming with fantastical possibilities and intrigues. There is also a lot of humor to be found in these pages. The plot itself is rather complex, but Freeman's writing is so polished and well-nigh perfect that few readers should have any problems keeping up. The story is told in the first person, from Rabbit's viewpoint, so the reader feels as if he is right there each and every step (and surprise) of the way. It takes a special kind of writer to make a first-person fantasy novel work, and Lorna Freeman shows herself to be more than up to the challenge. Covenants is an extraordinary debut by a rising star in the fantasy genre.
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on 30 May 2012
I originally picked up this book because I was lead to believe that it included gay main characters.
There are actually none as there is no sex scene at all.

I was not disappointed by the book itself, though.
It is far from spotless and it shows its author's lack of writing experience but it is enjoyable.

The first person POV makes it easier to identify with the endearing main character but it also makes it much more difficult for the author to draw a detailed picture of what happens in such eventful plot. Some inconsistencies and strained passages are the price she must pay for her stylistical choice.

The plot is hardly an original one, the same old story of the same old boy next door turning out to be more than he looks like and saving the day in a rather pompous way, but there is a good tension and some good climaxes. Writing is pleasant an rich (overrich?) with details and background information.
Some situations tend to become repetitive after a while and in my opinion a good editor could have suggested some cuts.
Characterization is a bit commonplace, with the villains being despicably so and the heroes unfaltering in any difficult condition.
On the other hand irony and lightness lighten up several pages.
Making the Border the home of any fairy creature ever known to fantastic literature, from unicorns to dragons to elfs, is probably an exaggeration but it is tolerable.

This book is certainly not a masterpiece but it manages to be entertaining.

P.S. a more accurate blurb, especially on the bookcover would not have hurt.
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on 31 December 2006
"Rabbit is a trooper on the Border Guards, just another body in the King's army. But when his patrol encounters a Faena-one of the magical guardians of an uneasy ally-Rabbit is thrust into a political and magical intrigue that could start a war. Because Rabbit isn't just another trooper. He is the son of nobility-and a mage who doesn't know his own power..." from the blurb.

It was so good to read a genuinely original first novel enlivened by a subtle wit - a hero named Rabbit for example? The characters were sympathetically believable, the plot led the reader at a spanking pace yet left one wanting more. Well worth reading. The worst thing was having to wait so long for the sequel!
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on 12 February 2010
I'd grown a little disillusioned with the quality of fantasy books currently on offer. I stumbled across this one in an Amazon Listmania and decided to go it a try without expecting much. However to my great pleasure I found Covenants and its sequels thoroughly enthralling (I read them all in two days). Believable and fun characters, witty dialogue, a good plot with enough twists and turns to keep me on my toes all add up to one excellent series. The only problem now is waiting for Lorna Freeman to finish up another book....
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on 4 January 2005
I bought this book for something to read over the holidays, not expecting much, but it surprised me. The book starts at a basic point and runs through from when the Faena and Rabbit - the hero.. sort of, meet lost in the mountains. Here we learn that a war is likely for the humans are invading and stealing the creatures from over the border. The book runs with this premise, changing tack focusing on Rabbit and his "mage" powers and the politics behind the problems.
A book that is a good read with interesting ideas and is well worth a look at
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on 27 September 2010
Firstly I should say this book failed the 100 page test - it didn't grab me within 100 pages so I gave up and moved onto another book. So it would be unfair to give this book too few stars and this review should be judged on that limited read. However, and the reason for the review is that, after all the praise for this book which persuaded me to give the book a go, it's a story involving a talking cat and a murdered stick; If I had known this I wouldn't have purchased it. While elves and dwarves are much maligned in fantasy these days by reviewers I can't get to grips with a fantastical talking moggy and the hullabaloo that the murdered stick (because trees are alive of course) caused. Having said that it was well written and if you can see past the cat/stick scenario then you should try it. That is if that paper the book is written on isn't from a murdered tree.
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on 11 March 2007
This is an excellent book, any other writer would have dragged it out into a trilogy. Other reviews contain information about characters and plot lines, but there is such a wealth of imagination and humour. I read it a second time and still found it fascinating.

I wish her third book was published - does anyone know what happened to Shadows Past?
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on 1 April 2005
I picked this up expecting the standard pot boiler to keep me company on the train, and found a really good read. The main charecters grab you and keep your interest to the end, and I am really looking forward to a sequel.
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Rabbit, the son of lords (now farmers) is fun to follow as he reveals more and more of hiself. Some of the stuff is deliberately hidden from others in an attempt to seem less than he is. Other is unknown to Rabbit himself.
Coming to terms with the truth about himself and those around him is not an easy battle. Rabbit does not give up on those he has faith in, and this trust pays off in the end.
I enjoyed the story Lorna Freeman had set out. After finishing, I immediately went into Amazon's files and looked for another book by this author. No luck. This was fantasy with an unusual cast. For anyone wondering whether or not to read this book, I would say GO AHEAD, you won't regret it.
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