Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Return Of The White Deer by Robert Sells

The land of Mercia is uneasy.  It has been ruled for twenty years by a king, Cearl, who is cruel, caring nothing for his people.  Cearl is power-hungry and obsessed by thoughts of those who might try to take his place.  For Cearl doesn't possess the one thing that makes a Mercia king legitimate and beloved.  He was not chosen by The White Deer, a mythical creature who legend says appears when Mercia needs a new king to choose the man best suited.

Pen is a twelve year old boy raised on a farm in the countryside of Mercia.  He is drawn to two strange habits.  Pen can communicate with all types of animals, both the horses, cattle and sheep on the farm and the wild creatures of the forest.  He has even seen the White Deer, although he knows he must keep this a secret. He is also drawn to learn the skills of a soldier, how to use a sword, bow and knife.  He is lucky enough to find a skilled teacher in the nearby village, although he hides his lessons from his farmer father.

When Cearl learns of Pen's existence, he is determined to eliminate him, as he suspects that Pen may be the next Chosen One.  Pen is kidnapped and thrown into Cearl's dungeon after Cearl meets him and decides his suspicions are correct.  When Pen is rescued by his father and his friends, it sets up a situation where a battle will determine the fate of Mercia and who will lead it going forward.

Robert Sells has written an engaging, rollicking tale of fantasy.  The characters are interesting, and the action is brisk enough to move the plot along without dragging.  This book is recommended for readers of fantasy.

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