Five Star Unicorns of Happy Reviews (also known as my review of Legends of Windemere by Charles Yallowitz) Holy cow this is a really super very long title.

Luke Callindor was born into Windemere’s most decorated family of adventurers. Since his birth, he has been treated with the greatest amount of respect and awe. Now, with a lifetime of training and the reckless cockiness of youth, Luke has set out to prove that he deserves the admiration that comes from being a Callindor.

Luke gets his chance when he convinces a royal messenger to hire him to protect the heir of Duke Solomon. This future leader is secretly attending Hamilton Military Academy, an esteemed school run by the former mercenary, Selenia Hamilton. It is a dangerous secret mission requiring that Luke pretend to be an average student while keeping an eye out for any sign of danger. Unfortunately, Luke has no idea which student the heir is and a demonic assassin is already several steps ahead of him. Finding himself in over his head and constantly in trouble, the young warrior realizes that the only things he has on his side are some new friends and his unwavering courage.

Can Luke find and protect the heir while keeping his own head attached to his neck? And, can he avoid being suspended long enough to see his mission through to the end?–Goodreads

ebook & paperback, 353 pages
Published February 26th 2013 (first published March 13th 2006)
ISBN
1482585146 (ISBN13: 9781482585148)
edition language
English
My thoughts:
It has been a long time since I found an opener for a fantasy series that was better than some of the big names in this genre. Dare I say that Piers Anthony, Anne McCaffrey and David Eddings may have some competition in the works? I think so. Charles Yallowitz is one of the most talented new voices I have seen hit the fantasy market in recent memory.Charles Yallowitz clearly has the required imagination to write a top notch fantasy novel. He has an excellent grasp of the elements that all good high fantasy books should entail. His world is rich, descriptive and filled with dazzling sights that have not been visited time and again. He utilizes more than just the common senses that we typically see in characters, and that made this a pretty mind blowing experience.

There were some really original and unique aspects to this book. I thought the use of zombies in this novel was an out of bounds achievement. I wasn’t expecting to see popular genres of fantasy and horror cross that way, and the mindless killing machine mentality of the zombies in Windemere were somewhat reminiscent of “The Five Kingdom” Novels by Vivian French, another series of books that I adore that also crosses genres.

There is a lot of humour along the way, so even when things are serious for the characters and there is peril and danger, the author keeps you laughing and enjoying the comedy of the character’s situations. I appreciated this quality, as it has always been one of my favourite things about fantasy. The character’s also have the chance to be reflective, serious and compassionate, as I had hoped they would.

Luke is a well thought out character. He is trying to live up to the family name and meet the expectations of everyone around him, but in the process, is also trying to forge his own path and be who he is.

In the beginning, I was concerned that basing a character on expectation had been done before and may be a weak point for the story, but Charles Yallowitz made it his own. Luke makes friends, enemies and ultimately chooses to hone the gifts he already has for the betterment of his situation and that of those he cares for. This is my definition of a hero. Appropriately titled book–“Beginning of a Hero.”

One of the other things I liked about this story, was that you never quite knew what was going to happen next. The author did not waste miles of paper telling the reader every single thing that was about to happen, and managed to keep his narration to a minimum and let the reader discover the events as they occurred. Many fantasy author have a tendency to narrate their stories to death, but this author didn’t. I like it.

The book was written in third person and really fit in keeping with the RPG feel of the story. Since everything is progressive, the reader always feels as though they are moving through time at the same rate as the characters. This genuinely made me feel like the action was happening in front of my eyes. I think Charles Yallowitz may be ruining my love for the past tense. Perhaps I should deduct a star after all.

My favourite part of this book, hands down–was when Luke arrived at the training camp. He was self assured, cocky and a brat. All within a matter of hours, he learned that he should not be so certain of himself after all.

The way Mr. Yallowitz handled this was most impressive. Luke could have copped out and become a groveling fool, or he could have become even cockier and as a result, a less likable character. Instead, he accepted his faults, admitted his weaknesses and renewed his spirit by becoming even more determined to learn. This showed me two things: 1.) This is a character that can be both resilient and endearing. 2.)This character will not fail me in further novels. I can trust him to be reliable and intelligent.

The emerging friendship between Luke and Nimby is another strong point for this novel. Every great hero needs a sidekick of sorts, and that is the role that Nimby fills in this first book. What would Harry have been without Ron? What would have become of Frodo without Sam? Nimby is the glue that binds Luke to this tale.

I really don’t think there is anything I would have changed about this novel. I liked the dog (Stiletto). I liked the magic. I love the Lich. (Think epitome of evil.) I thought all of the supporting characters were well done. I am totally infatuated with Fizzle. I think I may even love him. I also enjoyed that each character has a personality of their own. You don’t have to worry about having “says so-ad-so” every sentence as the speaker is identifiable through the pattern of their speech. I think I may actually go into withdrawals until I get more Fizzle.

I do have to say, it has taken me a bit of time and effort to drop the R from windermere and get Windemere. I blame Oscar Wilde. Not the author’s fault, classic literature buff here.

I am really looking forward to the next book. If you love a good fantasy and have been missing the way things used to be, when heroes were truly heroic and didn’t back down from a challenge, pick up a copy and read it. You won’t be sorry you did.

64 thoughts on “Five Star Unicorns of Happy Reviews (also known as my review of Legends of Windemere by Charles Yallowitz) Holy cow this is a really super very long title.”

      1. That’s a competitive field. Though, you get a shiny scythe, which is great for dealing with unwanted guests.

        Small note: Never check the blurbs of established authors for an idea. It’s all reviews, vagueness, and their past work. Stephen King’s blurb for the Dark Tower is one sentence.

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      2. Can you get the people behind the ‘Real Housewives’ series too? Also, can I put in a request to terrify Seth McFarlane? Not reap him, but make him think he only has a month to change his dark fate. 😀

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      3. I didn’t know living barbie doll was a viable career choice. Okay. Got that one out of my system. I’m sure they’re the type to think infamy is the same as fame. That’s a mentality I strive to avoid.

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      4. Those are horrible. The toddler (wondering if I should say his name at this point) had a string of those from late October to early January. I had many sleepless nights over his coughing and sitting there rubbing his back at 1am. My wife took the 4am shift.

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      5. That is awful:( the twins passed variations of the same infection around for weeks. I was paranoid about whooping cough so we made a lot of late night trips to the E.R. To which the doctors told me to relax. Right. Relax.

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      6. I jumped to that conclusion too and was told to calm down. The scary part is that the infections and colds started during the Superstorm Sandy power outage. He was getting over a small cold, we lost power for 10 days, and he slowly got worse. After that it was months of him being sent home sick with phantom fevers and colds. Drove all of us up the wall, which was made worse by the words ‘whooping cough’ and ‘pneumonia’.

        Let’s face it. When our kids are sick for a long time, our minds run wild with fear.

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  1. First, OH MY GOSH I love the pic that Bradley created for your header!! It ROCKS 🙂 Second this was an absolutely wonderful review post, Ionia. I’m a huge fan of fantasy and Anne McCaffrey is my favorite…hands down. Her books saved me from some really dark days when I was growing up. I looked forward to each new book she wrote.

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      1. You know she wrote a couple books with her son and then he wrote a couple of his own to continue her legacy. I hate to say it but they just weren’t the same 😦

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      2. I agree. Plus, her character development was superb. I always felt like I knew each of them as a close friend. There was a distance with his characters.

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  2. Yay, Charles. I need to download this book. It does not help me that Windermere is a place near me, and I keep searching with the not-necessary ‘r’.

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      1. Ours is South Windermere. An older, somewhat ritzy neighborhood where I buy my organic groceries. 🙂

        I love Seattle. I wish it didn’t cost so dang much to fly there from here.

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  3. Hi Ionia, Great review – I LOVE fizzle so much too, I just want to eat him! Where can I get myself a drite?! Just one thing – I notice you’ve put in your review that Charles writes in second person (and I noticed a similar review on amazon, saying the same thing too). He writes in third person. I only mention it because I don’t want people to be put off his writing thinking its “choose your own adventure” style! 😉

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  4. I have almost finished this book now. Had to stop to go to work with about 10 pages to go. I was almost late as it was. I am really enjoying it. Charles has done a great job and I am really looking forward to the sequel.

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