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White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors (White Raven, #1) by Irina Lopatina.

White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors (White Raven, #1)Title: White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors (White Raven, #1)
Author: Irina Lopatina
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Light Messages
Goodreads Summary: A young hero who must protect the land of his people from evil monsters trying to take over.

In the kingdom of Areya, humans, animals, and the magical creatures that inhabit the Eternal Forest have long coexisted peacefully, but now something is horribly wrong. A terrifying stream of monstrous creatures has begun to emerge from the secret depths of the earth, terrorizing all of Areya’s native inhabitants. From the tiny, wise drevalyankas to the bellicose cave-dwelling gnomes to the devious kikimoras who gather roots and herbs in the marsh, everyone is in danger.

With the aid of Urart, the magical sword that has been passed down from the time of the ancient northern ancestors, Grand Duke Vlady can offer temporary protection to his people. But Prince Vraigo, Vlady’s nephew, who is endowed with magical power himself, understands that the source of the evil monsters must be found if there’s any hope of survival. Along with a motley crew of his forest-dwelling friends, Vraigo sets off on a perilous quest in search of the koschei, the powerful, corrupt Archmagus whose mission is the destruction not just of Areya, but of the entire world.

As if this weren’t bad enough, Urart disappears from the duke’s stronghold. Without it, Areya is doomed, and only Vraigo, the White Raven, can possibly get the sword back. This journey requires Vraigo to use all of his keen wits and magical abilities, as well as to ally himself to dangerous creatures like yagas and werewolves, natural enemies of man, and precipitates the young prince into the most bewildering, complex challenge he has faced yet: life in the twenty-first century.

{ Review }

As the author is Russian, this book is a little different from other Young Adult books. This makes the story more unique as the setting and the scenery are inspired by places that Irina has seen in Russia. I liked that a lot of the things were inspired by somewhere other than England where most of the other fantasy books have been set; however, sometimes it was obvious that the author was not English as some phrases just didn’t flow quite as well as they could’ve done.

There is a useful character guide at the back which I referred to frequently. With such strange and fanastical names it can be hard to keep track of who's who all the time so I found this extremely helpful. This guide is illustrated as well so you get an impression of what the author imagined that each of the characters and beasts would look like. In addition, there is a little image at the beginning of each chapter which I thought was a nice touch. Usually I like to be left to my own devices and imagine things to be how I want them to be; however, with so many mythical and made-up creatures and people, I found the illustrations to be a great aid. 

I didn’t find myself particularly attached to any of the characters which was a shame. For some reason, the main character, Vraigo, just didn’t speak out to me and neither did his friends Nik and Lera. That said, I still found the story and their quest really interesting.

This book is really descriptive and I found it really easy to conjure up images of the world the characters lived in in my mind. However, I also found the book a bit dense and hard to get through. This definitely isn't one of those books that you whizz through; instead it's one that requires quite an intense amount of concentration to figure out who's doing what when and why. There were a lot of plot twists that I wasn’t expecting at all, namely, a little trip to the 21st century. I found this passage to be a bit weird and was not as gripping as the rest of the novel which was a disappointment.

White Raven is the first in a new trilogy by Irina Lopatina so I expected there to be lots of twists and turns with a big cliffhanger on the end; however, instead, everything seems to be unresolved, so I’m not really sure what to expect from the next two books at all. As a stand alone novel, White Raven is a fairly good story; however, with so many lose ends, I was a bit frustrated at the end. Hopefully, once the next two books have been released, everything will be cleared up to make this a fantastic series. Personally, I found the cover of White Raven to be a little scary and weird which didn’t encourage me to read this novel. Don’t let the cover put you off because this really is a great fantasy book!

{ About the Author }

Irina Lopatina lives and works in Siberia, Russia, but her homeland has an even more wonderful and exotic name: Altai. It is a unique place where old Altai Mountains rise high up to the sky, centuries-old forests stretch out as in ages past, and mighty Siberian rivers flow along the plains. Altai is one of the few places in the world where huge, densely populated cities coexist with pristine wild places. Moreover, this is an area of the earliest human civilizations, through which the great migration of people from eastern lands to Europe once took place.

While studying at the Altai State University, Irina devoted much attention to the past of her native land. As a student, she went to the archaeological sites of ancient settlements located on the mountain plateau, where it was only possible to arrive on foot. She remembers moments when it was quite easy to imagine how the ancient people had lived, what creatures neighbored them, and what adventures took place in these vast spaces. Irina needed take only a small leap from there to White Raven, his friends, and his enemies who were ready to begin a journey through the Eternal Forest of Areya.

Of course, it would have been much more difficult for her to create her stories if Irina had not been inspired early on by the works of many excellent fantasy and science fiction writers such as J.R. Tolkien and Ursula Le Guin, the Russian authors Nick Perumov and Svyatoslav Loginov, as well as the wonderfully charming Russian fairy tales where a brave prince, his faithful grey wolf and the evil koschei always live. And so it happens that Irina's novels are the stories of a distant, semi-fantastic land which, who knows, may still exist next door to us.

{ About the Illustrator }

Even as a child, Igor Adasikov knew that he would be an artist.

While studying at an art school, he devoted much of his time practicing classical drawing, seeking to depict the world around him as fully as possible. His works often won awards in Russian art contests, and he continued his education at Moscow Art Institute. After graduating from the Institute, Igor worked as an artist preferring realistic painting, such as portrait and landscape. However, his rich imagination still needed an outlet and manifested itself in full while illustrating the fantasy novel, White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors.

Here, in the surprising fairy-tale world, void of any boundaries, the artist found the nourishment to feed his creativity. Having traveled with the heroes through the whirlwind of adventures, he worked to give readers a visible image of Areya, bringing to life the magical creatures that inhabit the land, and making friends with the heroes of this fascinating story.

Please note: Anybody from who purchases a copy of White Raven before August 6 will receive a signed, personalized postcard from Irina from Siberia. The postcards feature some of the scenery that inspired the creation of Areya.

Readers can 1) purchase from Light Message (www.lightmessages.com/whiteravenpromo) or 2) email books@lightmessages.com with a photo of them and their copy of White Raven.

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  1. Orders placed through the Light Messages before July 25 will be $12.00 per book instead of $16.95 (That's about a 30% savings)
    Also, people who pre-order will receive a PERSONALIZED, signed post card from author Irina Lopatina. Postcards feature landscapes from Altai, Siberia––the inspiration for White Raven's Kingdom of Areya.

    the promotion is extended to any readers that come from White Raven blog tour hosts for 14 days after the date of the tour stop. All they need to do is mention the blog name they seen the promo on in the notes field and Light Messages will honor the promo deal

    The link to the page is: www.lightmessages.com/whiteravenpromo

    It can also be accessed from whiteraven.lightmessages.com

  2. Irina Lopatina29 July 2012 at 12:27

    Thank you so much, Laura, for your review. I would like to say that the first part of the story could not finish in a different way, because, despite the book's eventfullness, the characters are in the very beginning of the fight against the evil that is thickened over the world of Areya.


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