This was very much outside my usual reading material; I rarely read fantasy these days and even more rarely young adult anything. I was after something different that would be suitably distracting. The story whips along at a good pace and is filled with characters that one can really become attached to (my favourite was Gralen). It's almost impossible when reading a fantasy novel not to have thoughts of certain great epics that established the genre; even the first generation of fantasy after LOTR tended to follow certain lines. White Mountain has moments that make you think of those epics but it also has its own flavour and originality. I confess that I skim read many of the battle scenes (as I did for pretty much all the battle scenes in the Sharpe books, Simon Scarrow's Roman series and even the Last Kingdom books (again, Bernard Cornwell, I apologise!) and all the Shannarra series. It's not squeamishness but rather an inability to send my mind up and view the battle from a raven's eye view. The book ends on a bit of a bombshell so I shall keep my eyes open for the next in the series.
If you are looking for some modern twist on the classic epic Fantasy setup, this isn’t it. Tallis gives us a straight Fantasy tale, complete with an evil mastermind who has been plotting the overthrow of the world for ages – and now his plans have finally come to fruition. We have a stark demonstration of the power of said evil mastermind very early into the story. It was at this stage, I bonded with Marval and his grumpy dragon Gralen.
One of the other classic aspects of this book is the semi-omniscient viewpoint Tallis uses. To be frank, it isn’t a favourite viewpoint choice of mine, as writers who use it are too liable to canter through a story long on action and description, while being rather light on characterisation. However, Tallis writes with passion and eloquence that breathes life into her characters. There is plenty of description, but as the tone of the story inexorably darkens and becomes steadily grimmer, those descriptions, imbued with Tallis’s strong visual imagination and fluent writing add rather than detract to the story. sophiedrawingAn enjoyable addition are the beautiful illustrations drawn by Tallis herself, evidently a talented artist.
The initial light and affectionate exchanges between Marval and Gralen abruptly disappear after Marval’s abduction and draining as the tone of the book darkens. There is a real feel of danger – partly because Tallis isn’t afraid to kill off some of her more major characters.
My personal favourite is Gralen, the impulsive and outspoken dragon. He manages to provide shafts of light relief throughout the book, which I very much appreciated as the stakes steadily go on getting ever higher. The climax – the huge battle – was every bit as big a deal as Tallis continually flagged. In fact, while I’d already realised she is a writer of ability and passion, it was her depiction of the major conflict that confirmed her as a gifted storyteller. Did I see the final denouement coming? Yes, but that didn’t really matter – because it’s what the consequences are going to be that will count.
I will certainly be looking out for the second book in this series – and if your taste runs to quality epic Fantasy, then track down White Mountain – you won’t be disappointed.
Follow three friends; Marval, a wise old wizard, Gralen one of the last dragons alive and Wendya a young witch as they travel across the world from one magical kingdom to another meeting new friends and gaining alliances against a dark force called Morreck. Marval is alone the first time he encounters Morreck and barely gets away with his life. He needs to recover and then takes Gralen to check on their friend Wendya. She is fine but insists on coming along to help her friend and the man she thinks of as a father to her, Marval. He must regain his powers before the sixth new moon or he will fade away and die. Along their way through magical kingdoms they encounter many different beasts most who are not friendly and they endure ferocious attacks but pull together and somehow make it to safety relatively unharmed. They also meet many old friends and make amazing new ones. At the end they all come together to fight one huge battle where many lives are lost, both good and evil. I loved this story, the characters are so believable I began to identify with them and I felt their losses and happiness at their successes. I enjoyed exploring the magical places with them and meeting the different races and beasts both good and bad. It was written so well that I could imagine what the places and people looked like easily. I got pulled into the book and felt as though I was walking or flying the same paths as the characters. My favorite parts were the pictures dotted throughout the book that the author drew herself, they are amazing and really give the reader a view of what the author imagines the places and characters to look like. I would recommend this book to all who love magical worlds, where there is evil beyond any imagination and to those who love adventure and friendship.
A wonderful read - dragons, shapeshifters, monsters, more dragons, wolves and wizards and dwarves and heroes! The story jumps straight in and Mr Agyk's soon travelling with Gralen (who is possibly my favourite character), and the pace doesn't slow all the way to the twist at the end! I did find the names and places hard to follow on the first read, but considering the book's well worth a second (and third) read, it wasn't a problem at all. The drawings scattered through the text are a really nice detail, the writing is excellent, and the story definitely keeps you hooked. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series to find out what happens!
White Mountain chronicles the journey of an aged wizard and his entourage as they seek to destroy a powerful enemy. The wizard, Mr. Agyk, brings with him a loyal dragon named Gralen and Wendya, a young witch.
The characters in this book were well-formed and likable. Mr. Agyk’s dilemma is the catalyst for story, so we are introduced to him first. He’s a mix between Gandalf and Dumbledore, a wise, kindly old man most readers will enjoy and root for. Gralen, the loyal but sometimes impulsive dragon, vows to help Mr. Agyk whether he likes it or not. Gralen brings childlike wonder and bold bravery to the tale. Wendya, the young witch, is a character the female readers will identify with. She’s experienced great loss in her life, but is willing to sacrifice everything she has for the greater good. Our villian, Morreck, threatens not only the world of Wizards, mages, and dragons, but the world as a whole.
Tallis has created a world within our world, a world inhabited by the bravest of warriors and the foulest of creatures. From the mountains to the jungle to underground caverns, the fast-paced story takes us places we can envision so clearly we feel as if we could step into the scenery. Every scene is detailed to perfection. Every sense is engaged.
In a way, this is a typical high-fantasy quest story, but that’s where ‘typical’ ends. This is probably the best fantasy tale I’ve read in a long time. It truly exceeded my expectations, and trust me, my expectations are high when it comes to fantasy. I really think this book (and series) has a ton of potential and widespread appeal if non-fantasy readers will give it a chance. It’s easier to read than LOTR with characters as ‘fun’ and engaging as those in Harry Potter. The stakes are high and I was breathless with anticipation several times during this story. I wish I could share the ending with you because it was so unexpected and incredible, but I’m afraid Gralen might come after me. So, you’ll have to read it for yourself.