I just finished The Last Keeper, Book One of J.V. Hilliard's Warminster Series and, as the author requested, now give it an Official Book Review.
At heart and beyond the various sub-genres there exists but three types of Fantasy: quality Fantasy, unique Fantasy, and quality unique Fantasy. Which is The Last Keeper? Beyond all question the third. As I stated when starting the book, despite blind seers and Elven Princesses being not uncommon in Fantasy games and world mythology, Fantasy literature seldom employs them and I have never seen them used jointly. Yet not only does J.V. Hilliard employ them with all the deftness of a skilled juggler, they are but two strands in the marvelously deep realm of Warminster he has woven from the auguries of the mythosphere.
“Crimson flags borne on horses of white, see them ride, ye children of light." – The Ballad of Eldwal
realm of many distinct cultures and races, religious sects and cities. I
thought I had seen all types of elves and elvish cultures, yet Princess
Addilyn Elspeth of the Vermilion elves, the highest of elven castes,
and her Raven Elf champion and friend Jessamy Aberdeen proved me wrong.
Indeed, I was wrong about much for J.V. Hilliard's
authorial mastery lies not only in creating such a vast world but in
writing a story that is impossible to predict and thus keeps the blood bumping with its many unexpected twists and turns right until the last syllable (for
while cliffhanger endings drive me mad I cannot refute their
effectiveness). Bottom line? If ye seek true escapist and unique Fantasy that uses old tropes and fresh tools in new ways look no further. Blending the high morals,
epic magics, vistas, and battles (including the finest naval battle I have ever read), sense of mystery, and stakes of J.R.R. Tolkien with the
treasonous and devious Court Intrigue popularized by George R.R. Martin, the kingdom
of Warminster is a realm where dark and seemingly separate plots – both political and arcane – are in fact linked by the vengeful mind of a fallen Keeper of the Forbidden, Graytorris the Mad.
“The blade of betrayal, the sharpest of weapons, is wielded not by your enemies, but by your friends." – Warminster the Mage
A madman whose plan is just beginning and may only be stopped by the odd alliance between Princess
Addilyn, Last Keeper Daemus Alaric, trollborn Sir Ritter Valkeneer,
and, should true justice prevail, a pair from House Dauldon. Cultures separates them, custom would keep some apart, yet the world depends on them. May the Ancients and the light of Erud guide you, my friends, until book two of this most excellent debut series comes out. A book I shall most definitely read for, while I naturally would not rank Hilliard's skill as matching that of J.R.R. Tolkien, the Warminster Series carries on the same high tradition of skill, wonder, and escapism which The Lord of the Rings began.
(P.S. If you, dear reader, are an author/publisher and reading this review makes you want to ask me for a review too then PLEASE read my Contact Me? page.)