Editorial Review: Andalon Awakens: Dreamers of Andalon Book One by T. B. Phillips
Dreamers of Andalon is not only a superb introduction to this incredible world, but has enough character development and plot twists to keep readers hooked to the very last page.
For centuries a secretive sect of magic-wielders, called Falconers, has used brutal methods to suppress the use of elemental magic by others. This enforced stability begins to crumble as more and more people find their powers awakening. From pirate captains to outcasts and royalty, these people never dreamed of wielding powers that could change the world. However, even with their newfound abilities, they are up against forces that will stop at nothing to ensure their destruction.
Andalon Awakens is not a book about squeaky clean heroes and heroines always doing the right thing and emerging from every situation unscathed. Instead, they all have their flaws, and some went through very traumatic events that have left them broken and scarred. However, they are all survivors, and it is how they deal with adversity that makes this story so compelling to read. Despite the seemingly godlike powers that some of the characters can wield, they are still plagued by doubt and insecurities. They still make mistakes and have to deal with situations where their decisions place the lives of others on the line. T. B. Phillips doesn't pull any punches either, so even the heroes will suffer pain, loss, humiliation, and defeat at times. These scenes are not just harrowing to read but also keeps you on your toes as you never know what to expect next.
One of the great things about the novel is that it starts as a seemingly ordinary fantasy novel that deals with pirates, political intrigue, and betrayal. Yet, the deeper readers delve into the story, the more it becomes evident that there are some science fiction elements at play as well. This casts some of the plot elements into a whole new light and makes the overarching story more compelling. However, it is still a fantasy novel first and foremost, so readers can expect plenty of action-packed scenes with ship-to-ship battles, armies attempting to outmaneuver each other and daring ambushes. These scenes are extremely well written and some of them are tense enough that you might even find yourself holding your breath while reading. Also, the shifting viewpoints keep things fresh, and there's always something new or exciting happening.
Andalon Awakens features a relatively large cast of characters, which could easily have caused some confusion, but Phillips has managed to keep the story very accessible. While the overall story is quite sweeping and epic, each character has his or her own immediate problems to deal with. It's almost impossible to pick any favorites either as they are well so well developed, and it is hard not to get drawn into their plights. Eusari, the captain of the Sea Wolf, is an excellent example of a character that starts almost cold and unlikable but becomes someone readers will root for as more and more of her story and motivations are revealed. On the other hand, there's Braen Braston, who has a darker side than most heroic protagonists, and Robert Esterling, who has physical limitations that put him at a severe disadvantage. The story even shifts to the viewpoints of some of the antagonists, and these make it clear that Andalon Awakens is not a typical good versus evil tale.
Overall Andalon Awakens is packed with engaging characters and imaginative scenarios. The world that T. B. Phillips has created is also a place that both fans of traditional fantasy and readers who enjoy a bit of science fiction can easily lose themselves in. Dreamers of Andalon is not only a superb introduction to this incredible world but has enough character development and plot twists to keep readers hooked to the very last page. It might sound like a blend of all the best elements from the fantasy genre, but somehow Phillips has managed to combine it all into a cohesive narrative that never fails to entertain.