Returning home from another grueling shift of E.R. work, Dr. Blake Lee Strong comes across a downed motorcyclist and stops to help, but little does he know that his world and that of his family will soon be turned upside down. Duped into being transported to another planet called Inam'Ra , Dr. Strong and his family are thrust into a medieval world populated by Trolls, Gnomes, Elves, Dwarves, Humans and other alien beings. An epic odyssey begins as the Strong family fights for not only their own survival, but also for the continued existence of the citizens of Ravenwild.
As soon as you turn the first page of Ravenwild you are immediately transported into the medieval fantasy world of Inam'Ra and introduced to the danger that the citizens of Ravenwild face from the encroaching Trolls and Gnomes. Unfortunately for the Strong family they are tricked into leaving the safety of their world by an unnerving wizard and end up separated and stranded amongst dangerous creatures in Ravenwild and its surrounding countries. What ensues is an epic adventure as Blake and Jessica Strong try to battle their way through Ravenwild to find their children. I'm a big fan of medieval fantasy stories including the works of Trudi Canavan, Terry Brooks and J.R.R. Tolkien and now Peter Plasse. Inam'Ra is a diverse and exciting new world that I really enjoyed exploring.
I loved the way the whole family was involved in the story instead of just one of the children. In a lot of novels the parents are usually conveniently absent but in Ravenwild they were an important presence. The whole family have a really sarcastic humour which had me chuckling along with them at times. The three children Orie (16), Stephanie (15) and Jacqueline (10) are all likable with their own distinct personalities but with traits inherited from their parents, which shows how close they are as a family.
There is also a whole host of characters that you are introduced to, good and bad! There is the brave and loyal Forrester and even though he is a Troll he has a good heart and has banded together with Orie to help him find his family. There is also Jared, the intelligent and resourceful human that comes across Stephanie and believes she is the girl that is prophesised to change the fate of Inam'Ra in his beloved books. On the other side of the war there is the awful and downright evil Troll Emperor Malance Venomisis. So even though there was a lot of characters to keep track of I never forgot who was who and it was easy to follow becasue they all had there own personalities and none ever blended into one another.
Throughout the whole novel there is always the presence of danger and the threat is almost palpable. The Trolls are vicious and don't give a second thought about killing anybody for food or even just fun. There were times when some of the characters had just managed to escape from the Trolls only to find themselves back in their clutches almost straight away. This meant that I never knew what was going to happen next and there were also plenty of twists and turns that kept me reading and guessing.
Dotted amongst the pages of the book are great illustrations by Michael Longenecker of various characters and scenes which were an added bonus and very cool. The story ended satisfyingly, however, there are still questions to be answered and mysteries to be unraveled in the next installment and I can't wait to read it. Overall, it was a fast-paced, exciting read that transports you to a rich and amazing new world and is a great start to a promising new trilogy.
Random Passage: Anyone would agree that it's tough to live every moment of your life in fear that you're about to die - when there might be danger behind every tree, under every bush, around every bend in the roadway - when every shadow might suddenely transform itself into some hidden creature and rip you to shreds.