Note: Safkhet Publishing gave me an advance reader's copy of White Mountain in exchange for an honest review.
My Review: 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 book begins with a thorough glossary to aid the reader in navigating the rich fantasy world. I refuse to refer to glossaries for two reasons. Reason one: when reading, it breaks my stride when I'm forced to constantly consult the beginning of the book. Reason two: if the author can't present their story without a separate guide, then they're not doing their job as a storyteller. I'm happy to report the glossary was not necessary, but merely a bonus. I finally read the glossary when I was finished with the story in hopes there would be some hints as to what would happen in subsequent books. (Someone please tell me what happens next!)
The characters in this book were well-formed and likable. There were many, many characters, but they were interwoven into the tale and not dumped on the reader in an overwhelming rush on the first page. 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.