"Amulet," book one of the DragonBlade Series by Nancy Lee Parish sated both the little child and the adult in me with its intriguing characters and adventurous spirit. The author's pacing of this story is superb. She always leaves the reader wanting more, giving you just enough pieces of the puzzle to stimulate your curiosity and keep you reading until the very last page.
Fantasy books can be difficult for some readers because of the author's need to invent places, things, philosophies, and a way of life totally unfamiliar to the reader. In Amulet, Parish settles into a comfortable balance between the story and the fictional world.
There are many conflicts going on in Amulet. The most obvious and long-lasting is the one which pits the Ecli, the dark wizards who rule all of Ranaria and live in the city of Dardanos, against the Volanari insurgents. Beyond this is the conflict among the four wizards known as the Ecli. Each has their own agenda. Among the Ranarians there are those who are linked to the Ecli and to other wizards of old. Among this group, there is a desperate desire to survive the Ecli and regain their freedom, but it means taking risks unlike any they have ever considered in the past. It means believing in the reality of things thought only to be fairy tales. It means trusting those once thought to be their enemies to fight the creations and the pull of the dark crystal.
I don't know that there is one main character in this book. It is more like an ensemble, which is in harmony with the theme of the story. Thus, the reader gets a chance to know the characters more through their interactions with each other rather than through the author's unveiling of their internal psychology.
Parish keeps you on your toes trying to second guess where the story is taking you. One of her characters perhaps explains it best: "Sometimes things happen for a reason, and it ain't always apparent what that reason is when it's happenin'." [Thoral]
Amulet is part of the DragonBlade Series, and I look forward to seeing where the dark crystal leads us.