Desert Isle Keeper
The Golden Key
First published fifteen years ago, this original and captivating work of fantasy is now being made available to the public once more. If you like deep, historically rich novels this is a not to be missed gem of the genre.
Saavedra has done all she can to keep her inquisitive, rule breaking cousin Sario Grijalva from falling too deeply into trouble with the masters. She understands what drives him to constantly push at boundaries; she too shares his utter fascination with the magic of the Gifted Limners, men who can alter reality with their paintings, who are entrusted to capture in art rather than words all the important legal contracts of their world – treaties, marriages, wills. Then Sario begins a far more dangerous game than he has ever played before, one that could very well grant him immortality if he can gain sufficient power over his magic. Can Saavedra stop him from abandoning all honor – and risking all they hold dear?
This is a truly unforgettable story that looks at magic in a way rarely seen. The use of paint and symbolism is not your everyday wizardry that populates much of the fantasy market, but something unique enough to really capture the imagination of its readers. Rawn, Roberson, and Elliott have created a rare world in the duchy of Tira Vitre and peopled it with memorable, fascinating characters. The rich historical details they intertwine in the story and the simple subtleties of everyday living they depict work to really bring the tale to life. It would have been tempting, I’m sure, to set this tale in England like most fantasy novels, but the choice of a Latin setting was inspired. We always equate these countries with a touch of mysticism, a spicy flavor and a delicious sense of bright colors and sunlight – which creates the perfect ambiance for this tale.
The movement of the story through history is also well done. We get to see various moments throughout time and how Sario affects each. I thought the authors did a good job of helping us see the advantage that a long life would give a person, not just in knowing human nature but in knowing how to control and manipulate it for your own end. I also liked the fact that the politics and history in this novel weren’t just wars and murders but more subtle machinations were utilized.
Another interesting point in this novel is how much time is spent with a selfish, unethical character. He is never glossed over, never made to seem more than he is – and that too was a departure from typical fantasy fare which focuses mostly on the heroes and their nobility. He is contrasted nicely by the many ethical people he encounters along the way and by Saavedra. She is just one of many strong female characters in this book.
If you are looking for something different and engrossing to read this summer and aren’t intimidated by a hefty, complex fantasy volume, I would strongly recommend picking up this novel.