Monday 27 April 2020

#BookReview — The Forest of Allund (The Forest of Allund, Book #1) by Wilbur Arron #HistoricalFantasy @ArronWilbur

The Forest of Allund
(The Forest of Allund, Book #1)
By Wilbur Arron

Young Mage Alexio Sopholus has returned home after ten years away at the Mage Academy. Although short and slight of build due to childhood sickness, he has found academic acclaim through his studies. Upon arrival in his home of Korpolis, he reacquaints himself with his old human friends and his former home. His only desire is to take up the position of forest caretaker left to him by his deceased master. The Forest of Allund is a place filled with equal parts myth, mystery, and fear. There he meets a wandering Amazon, but most importantly, his large and intelligent animal friends reside there. They all help him guard the forest against outside intruders. Soon the nature of the forces that govern and protect this place is made evident to him as he finds new sources of knowledge and power.

Although he only seeks peace and quiet, he is soon thrust into a war with a new barbarian tribe, the Zilar. They seek total domination of all the lands and are not above using slavery, genocide, and brutal repression to get their way. Alexio is forced to fight them directly using all the powers at his command. Initially successful in his efforts he finds his victories have only made him the object of intrigue by his leaders who fear his power and his popularity. His efforts at protecting the land are met with suspicion, fear, and betrayal by his own leaders.

Seeing the destruction, deceit, and betrayal around him, Alexio is forced to conclude that all his most cherished beliefs, principles, ethics, and morality are all but useless against the foes arrayed against him. To protect himself and his friends he must wage war. It will be a war without pity, mercy, and against the laws of Gods and Men. It may also make him an outcast in his own land.

"It must be wonderful to have the power of the gods."

But what man has a right to such powers? And besides, all mages know that one must always be respectful towards the Gods — it is written in The Code of the Brotherhood of Mages, after all. If a mage started to act like a god, then the gods would not take such an offence without recompense.

Mage Alexio Sopholus had graduated with a first-rate diploma from the Academy in all three schools. It was an exceptional accomplishment. With such qualifications, Alexio could have been a teacher at the Academy. He could even have become an advisor to a great king. But such a life was not for him. Instead, Alexio had returned home for a peaceful life as the caretaker of the Forest of Allund.

Alexio is determined to remain humble, to only use his powers for good. However, a dark and formidable army led by the ruthless barbarian leader, Zilar, threatens everything he knows and loves. Thrust into a war, not of his making, Alexio faces some difficult decisions. Does he continue to honour and abide by the Mage Code, or does he forsake it and save his friends?

Only time will tell if his decision is the right one…

From a prodigal son's return to the shocking betrayal by men who should have known better, The Forest of Allund (The Forest of Allund, Book #1) by Wilbur Arron is an epic tale of friendship, war, magic and love. 

With a swirling stroke of his quill, Arron has portrayed a world that is filled with mythical creatures, legendary gods, and daring adventures. The Forest of Alluund is an evocative story that is painted on a canvas of great heroism and desperate tragedy. It is a story about a coming war and the man who would do absolutely anything to stop it. 

Told with an alluring sense of time and place, The Forest of Allund is rich in both mythology and history. Drawing inspiration from the Hellenistic period, Arron has given his young hero a backdrop that is realistic in the telling. Add to that the mythical creatures, the moral dilemmas, the magic, and the protagonist's fight to save his kingdom, makes for one very appealing story.

Arron writes a great deal about ethics and morals in this book, and this story reminded me of Homer when he said in The Iliad that "We men are wretched things..." This quote certainly sums up Alexio's character, for he does some truly wretched things. War and fear corrupt as surely as power does. Alexio really struggles with the dilemma that he finds himself in, and often he looks for excuses that would exonerate him from his crimes. He had to do it. It was them or him. He was defending his friends. The truth is, of course, he is a very powerful mage who has within his possession the jurisdiction over life and death. However, Alexio does not harness his magic because he wants to elevate his position. He does not seek acclaim — he shies away from it. But there are some things that he does, which suggest that fame and power are exactly what he seeks, and I can understand why some of his allies question his motives. Despite the magic and the power, Alexio comes across as very human in the telling. He does have the power of the gods, but he does not have the gods' wisdom to know when enough is enough. Alexio is such a contradiction — on the one hand, he is this peaceful, wise character, and on the other, he is a cold-blooded murderer. Circumstances turn Alexio into an anti-hero, which I thought made him all the more fascinating.

A character that I was drawn to was Philie of the Amazon Antelope Tribe. Philie has a very intriguing backstory, and she is, as one would expect from an Amazon, courageous, strong and wise. I thought Philie brought a great deal to this story. At times she becomes Alexio's conscience, which isn't necessarily a good thing because she makes excuses for what he has done and what he will do. However, this does prove her unyielding loyalty to Alexio, which is admirable. Philie is certainly a warrior you would want standing by your side in a fight. I thought Philie's depiction was sublime.

There are many mythical creatures in this book, and they are all marvellously depicted. It is almost as if Alexio and the mythological creatures have an unspoken covenant. These creatures are dedicated to preserving Alexio's life — they do treat him as a sort of god, and they will do as he commands — with the exception of the Old Ones who will not be ruled by anyone! I was particularly fascinated with the Old Ones. These ancient beings are terrifying to look upon, and yet, they are exceptionally wise. When Alexio does something that they are not comfortable with, they tell him, which is precisely what Alexio needs. He does not always listen, but it does curb his volatile nature to an extent. 

Some of the problems the protagonist faces when fighting the enemy, are overcome with the use of some very clever engineering. Arron depicts these engineering challenges in an easy to understand way, which I thought was very refreshing, and it also gives his readers an insight into some of the tremendous engineering feats of this era. Likewise, the attention to the military detail is also worthy of praise. Kudos, Mr Arron

If you are looking for a book that is rich in fantasy and magic with a touch of the ancient world, then The Forest of Allund (The Forest of Allund, Book #1) by Wilbur Arron will undoubtedly appeal. I am very much looking forward to reading Book #2 of what promises to be a very compelling series.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
The Forest of Allund

Wilbur Arron

Wilbur Arron is the pseudonym of a retired professional engineer, project manager, and government official who has spent over 40 years in various engineering fields throughout the Southeast United States. In this time he has worked mostly on environmental issues, but also promulgated government regulation, performed forensics investigations, and investigated and corrected manufacturing problems. 

Besides his technical background, Wilbur Arron is also an amateur historian with his major work on ancient history. This has given him insight on how the principles of science and engineering developed over the ages. He is familiar with both Greek and Roman history from 1500 BCE until 500 AD. He has also studied European history and the history of the Far East. Now in his late 60s, he has witness the major technical events occurring since the early 1960s and has taken part in a few of them. His first work in computer modeling was done using Fortran IV, and an IBM 360 on loan from NASA; then having data sent out on the Arpa-net. He was an early user of both desk top publishing and word processing platforms. 

One of his other interests is in science-fiction and fantasy literature. He has been a reader of both styles of literature since the late 1950s. Since the late 1980s, he has attended and spoken at many World Cons on a variety of subjects from the history of science, to the design of national and private space programs. He has also met many authors both of science-fiction, fantasy and history.

Since his retirement, Wilbur Arron has decided to try a new career at writing. This allows him to combine his knowledge of science, engineering, and history into a single project. Now a widower, this also provides him time to write. Prior to this his first novel, he has published short stories to several on-line web sites such as Fan Fiction, Fiction Press, and Story Star. After favorable reviews for these stories, he decided to write a three book fantasy series set in a background similar to ancient Greece in the period after 330 BCE.

Connect with Wilbur: WebsiteTwitterGoodreads.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx