Monday, April 11, 2016

Return of the White Deer Review Tour

It's not easy growing up in seventh century Mercia, an ancient kingdom in England. Bit more difficult when you are the Chosen One and on track to become the next king. Especially if you have no army, no training, and no noble background.

At least that's what Pen thought after being kidnapped by the King and locked away in a dungeon. And, who could help him now? His father, a mere farmer? The few people in a backwater village, not even on some maps?

Ahh… but a village of secrets. Secrets about a matronly woman with a dark past and her feisty daughter who somehow had become an expert archer. Secrets even about his father who, without a weapon, took down an armed soldier. Secrets about his mother, long dead. Secrets about an old black horse which could outrun all others. But, most of all, secrets about a strange white deer lurking in a forbidden forest. 

After being rescued, Pen finds himself in the middle of a rebellion and on a roller-coaster ride ending with his coronation or, far more likely, his death.  Success hinges on this fifteen year old boy growing into a man in a few short months. Yup, growing up in Mercia wasn’t easy.

“Did I give you permission to speak, boy?”

“My apologies, King Bruder, but I was…”

Again the hands waved “Why is it you always speak of ‘I’?  ‘I’ this and ‘I’ that. Do you only think of yourself, boy?”

Unbalanced from the verbal attack, Pen blinked and shook his head. “I…”

The King started to wave his hands still again, but Pen continued loudly. “I am here to discuss an allegiance with you.”

The King stopped waving his hands and looked at Pen with squinted eyes.  “By whose authority, child?”

Holding the man’s stare, Pen nervously released his well-rehearsed words.

“By my own, King Bruder. I am the Chosen One and soon to be king. My people need your help now. For that help I am willing to concede certain lands to you.”

Bruder looked at the lad in front of him. His face went dark, an eyebrow raised, and he leaned into the boy so that their faces nearly touched. “You are no king! You don’t even have hair on your face, boy. And, from what my spies tell me, you will never be king. Baron Glock has even more men to crush the rebellion. Today he attacked the rebels. There are far too many against your friends now.”

Pen’s face dropped and Bruder smiled. Before the boy could recover, Bruder motioned for his guards.

“Take him away.” Instantly, the bewildered lad was held firm by two men. The king took a step toward him and tapped a finger hard upon his chest.

“Tomorrow, I will kill you, Penda, son of Petronius."

My Review:
4 stars

I enjoyed this story a lot, even though I'm not a big YA fan. The characters were well written, especially Pen. I loved seeing his journey from naive farm boy to intelligent, wise man, especially since you could see it developing throughout the entire novel rather than just instantly happening or occurring in a short amount of time (which is a big pet peeve of mine in YA fantasy novels). 

As for the plot, it was engaging and gripping. I had a hard time putting the book down because I was drawn so far into the story. Though there were times were the story dragged a bit (especially near the beginning due to the exposition and set up of the story), overall it was well written and interesting. I don't want to go into specifics about the plot since that would risk potentially spoiling the story, but needless to say, if you are a fantasy fan, then you definitely need to give this a read (even if you don't normally read YA). 

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Short Biography for Robert Sells and Links:
I attended college at Ohio Wesleyan where I struggled with physics. Having made so many mistakes in college with physics, there weren’t too many left to make and I did quite well at graduate school at Purdue.  

I worked for nearly twenty years at Choate Rosemary Hall, an exclusive boarding school in the heart of Connecticut. More often than not, students arrived in limousines. There was a wooded area by the upper athletic fields where I would take my children for a walk. There, under a large oak tree, stories about the elves would be weaved into the surrounding forest.

Returning to my home town to help with a father struggling with Alzheimer’s, the only job open was at a prison. There I taught an entirely different clientele whose only interaction with limousines was stealing them. A year later Alfred State College hired me to teach physics. I happily taught there for over ten years.

My wife’s boss, the superintendent of a rural school in western New York, begged me to teach physics and earth science. Helping young high school students was particularly appealing to me at this point in my career and the salary was more than reasonable, so I find myself happily teaching at Mt Morris Central School.

Five years ago, my wife pestered me about putting to “pen” some of the stories which I had created for the children and other relatives. I started thinking about a young boy and a white deer, connected, yet apart. Ideas were shuffled together, characters created and the result was the Return of the White Deer. This book was published by the Martin Sisters.

Years ago I gave a lecture on evolution. What, I wondered, would be the next step? Right away I realized that silicon ‘life’ had considerable advantages over mortal man. Later this idea emerged as the exciting and disturbing story called Reap the Whirlwind.

Two years ago I stumbled upon an old article in the local paper about a Brinks’ robbery in 1992.  Apparently over ten million dollars were stolen and most of it was never recovered. Although the mafia was peripherally involved in the heist, it was unlikely they took the missing millions. This was the seed which has now grown into the young adult novel, The Runner and the Robber. 

I have many other stories inside my mind, fermenting… waiting patiently for the pen. Perhaps someday I will even write about those elves which still inhabit the woods in the heart of Connecticut.

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  1. Great review, sounds like a book I'll enjoy reading. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Do you prefer paper or digital books?

  3. Sounds interesting. Thank you for the post and review =)