There’s nothing like settling down for a short, sweet adventure filled with strong characters and witty dialogue, and this is exactly what you get with Melissa E Beckwith and her novel, Tree of Bone and Mist. It is the first book in her series Sword of Rhiannon.
We are introduced to Rhiannon, a young woman ripped from a modern Montana ranch and thrust into the wheelings and dealings of a medieval style world where good and evil are literally fighting for ownership of the world. She is accompanied by a beautiful black stallion called Zellan and a she-wolf aptly named Luna; as well as a brigand of rebels headed by an imaginatively named gypsy, Flath.
The plot feels rushed at the beginning but, by staying with Rhiannon and her journey for the truth, you are rewarded with an immersive world that takes you away, as any good high-fantasy novel should. Her world is unique, well-articulated and graphically represented in a way that helps you follow the events through Beckwith’s narrative. The story itself is paced well for a first book; though it drew my ire that every strange man that entered the plot came across as misogynistic or a half-wit brute. Where are the good-mannered heroes of old, may I ask? Nevertheless, I am eagerly awaiting my chance to begin book two and find out how Rhiannon came to her situation.
Whilst the author can be disorientingly descriptive and somewhat overly linear with her plot development, the novel is bright and engaging with a cast of characters that leave you wanting to know more. The kindle version has a few formatting errors and typos, but nothing that only the most obsessive of grammar and editing masters would not forgive. I would suggest this novel for anyone looking for a quick but engaging read in the high-fantasy genre; I took about three hours to knock it over in one go but was unable to put it down in the meantime. The story moves quickly and to put it down is to lose your place.
For those that dislike it when the adventure ends too soon, luckily her second book War of the Gypsy is already available, a positive for avid readers such as myself who hate that long wait between books in series.
Overall, I found Beckwith has done a good job with her narrative and would recommend this to others. Whilst in need of a polish, it shows the promise of an author who knows how to tell a story and keep her plot in line. Beckwith is one to watch in the genre.
Reviewed by Zoe Butler
Rating out of 10: 6
Distributed by: Amazon Australia
Released: January 2017
RRP: $5.80 ebook