Evil is stirring in Elenath. A rapid chain of events: a righteous king's murder, a dark queen's seizure of the throne, and the stirring of ancient peoples opens a new chapter in Elenath's history. Dark powers seek to control all and a bare few stand against the sinister forces. At the center of the tempest lies Gwaeron, princess of Anirum. Secrets surround her true identity, and the strange gifts she is capable of are sought after by both sides of the silent war. Another evil haunting the land of Elenath; sweeping from the northwestern wasteland to Anirum's eastern coast is the dreaded eves fornost. Hearts of human, elf, etel, and gnome will turn for good or evil. And the worst is yet to come.
The Keepers of Elenath is Amanda Bradburn's debut novel, and though all debut novels have their faults, this was a particularly good one.
The beginning, though it kept me interested, led to a small bout of confusion as to who these people were and what was happening. After that first bump, however, the ride smoothed out and the brick of the road was laid. The description, especially, held my attention. Bradburn did a great job in describing the essential aspects of each scene and yet added a unique flavor that I savored.
The characters of this novel were well done and fleshed out, as best could be done in a 300+ page novel. I wished for a little bit more development in some cases, but I expect that it will be found in the next book (which I am looking forward to). The characters stayed consistent, and I enjoyed watching them. The villains were well done and never cheesy, which is always a challenge with debut authors.
Allegorically, this was also a good novel. It wasn't an obvious right-in-front-of-your-nose allegory--though some aspects were clearly representing Biblical things such as sin, Jesus' sacrifice, etc.--and was very well done.
The plot was unique. Though there was some cliches along the way (most notably the character of Lord Nordik--there were some strong similarities there to King Eliam in The Door Within Trilogy) it generally stayed unique and fresh.
The worldbuilding was where this book broke away from other debut novels, however. It was the fantastic shining moment. For the number of pages this book had, Bradburn fit an incredible amount of worldbuilding into The Keepers of Elenath; races (among which are the elves, the etels, the gnomes, and the lost shadowglyphs), kingdoms (ancient and new alike), and a generous summary of names, places, and races at the beginning of the book, which helped immensely. I especially like the concept of the Keepers of Elenath. Not the book, but the Keepers themselves.
All things considered, I greatly enjoyed this book, especially the description and worldbuilding. While it had several flaws, the story--and the message behind the story--shone through.
Rated 8.7 out of 10. Good stuff. :)