Darius and Dyla Telkur are royal twins from the duchy of Telkur. They are imbued with psychic gifts (as all royals are) and live a charmed life... until tragedy strikes. When their parents, the Duke and Duchess of Telkur, are implicated in a dastardly smuggling ring and presumed dead, the twins' uncle, Avikar, takes over the royal duties until the twins are of age. What the twins don't know is that Avikar has his sights set on the Dukedom, and will stop at nothing to get it. A mistimed attempt on the twins' lives results in yet another tragedy, and the blame falls to the twins. Their attempts to win back their duchy and clear their family's name takes them on an exciting adventure to places they never imagined. Time is running short; will they be able to prove their innocence and that of their parents in time to regain control of the royal title and their duchy?
Written by the collaborative team of Debra L. Martin and David W. Small, this fantasy tale is highly imaginative and quite engaging. The authors transitioned to new settings and events by beginning each chapter with a "quote" from the "Chronicles of Otharia." It is in this way the readers are introduced to the rules and customs of the Otharian people. Each quote is paired well with a chapter that demonstrates the quoted information. I found this to be a really effective way to prepare us for what was to happen in the chapter, and supply us with information without having to spell it out in the narrative. It helped tie together a story that was somewhat lacking a smooth flow in events and storyline. The writing, overall, seemed somewhat inconsistent to me, almost as if different parts were written by different authors.
Of the three main characters, Darius, Dyla and Eclair, I felt Eclair was actually the most developed and the most interesting. I got a better sense of his motivations, as well as his strengths and his flaws, than I did of any other character. All of the characters in the story proved interesting, but they were not all developed as well as I would have liked. The dialogue between characters proved a bit flat and stilted in many places, which made it some of the reading occasionally awkward.
The storyline itself is actually quite interesting. I especially liked the way Earth was tied into the Otharian adventure, and I was really interested in how those two planets were related in the past and, perhaps, would be again in the future. I was really able to get into the adventure, although I did wonder to myself several times where the adventure was actually going. It was engaging and moved along at a nice pace, but it almost seemed like several parts of the story were written separately and then stuck together. In addition, there were a few timeline jumps that caught me by surprise- sometimes the storyline picked up where it left off in a previous chapter, and sometimes it jumped time. It felt inconsistent. Although there was a common thread- the battle for the royal throne- sometimes I lost track of where we were headed and why. The ending does a good job in setting up a sequel, and it is a sequel I'm interested in reading.
With regards to the mechanics, I felt the book could use one more editing pass. There were several typos (e.g., you for your, certainty for certainly) and I felt it was lacking commas in some key places. There were several times I had to reread a sentence to understand the meaning because of the lack of commas. At one point, for example, I was confused as to why a woman waitress was checking herself out, until I added a comma in my head and realized a patron was actually doing the ogling.
With a half star boost for the sheer creativity and cleverness in tying Earth together with Otharia (which I thought was the most interesting concept introduced in this story), and the fact that it was engaging and fun to read, I give this:
4 /5 stars
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