Book One in “An Oath of Blood”
Click HERE to buy it on Amazon.com
Island Shifters was another one of those ‘Ooooo shiney cover!’ books that I grabbed when I saw it in my Kindle Carousel. Therewas something compelling about the simplicity of the cover. It looks very similar to something my wife might draw and color, so I grabbed it while it was free.
The setting is pretty straightforward. There is an island, Massa, which is split in to several smaller countries. One of the countries, Pyraan, is used to hold all of the magic users of the island. Here, they are called Shifters and the operate a LOT like the Benders of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. However, instead of the typical Earth, Air, Wind, Fire balance we are give Earth, Fire, Mind, and Shape. Mind shifting appears to be telekinesis and telepathy (as well as mind control) and Shape appears to be the ability to copy the physical appearance of anything you can get close enough to.
Our heroes are four prodigies of shifting – one for each element – and their Draca Cat (a lion/dragon hybrid if I am getting the images correctly. They have been sent to do their duty as shifters and keep the island safe from the outside forces that have threatened them for several centuries. While they are reluctant to do this, they are required to due to the mysterious ‘Blood Oath’ (more on that in a minute). Needless to say they learn some skills and find out that the time of peace they have been having is going to come to an end. They have to go on a quest to find a lost kingdom and allies to help turn away the evil necromancer that is coming to destroy their kingdom (again).
There is also a prophecy.
All in all, it’s a fairly standard fantasy setup. There are, however, a few bits and pieces that separate this from other stories. One significant item is the magic system – there are a number of fairly clear rules to using powers and a few societal limitations. The author, however, keeps the system consistent and straight forward, making I easy to track and also easy to see why a character chooses NOT to use their powers to solve a dilemma. The power simply won’t allow itself to be used that way. Similarly the treatement of the shifters is consistent – they are something to be feared and controlled. While you would think saving several villages would break folks of this habit (and individually it does) society isn’t changing overnight to make it easier for you to be a magic user. While the ease is sometimes inconsistent, it is there and maintained, which is good.
Then there is the Blood Oath. While it is an important element to the story and it is a part of the series, it’s not handled especially well. Several times the main characters propose a solution to a problem only to be told “that’s forbidden by the Blood Oath.” While we are introduced to the Blood Oath as readers and told of the consequences of violating it, most of the consequences we are told of are societal in nature. There is literally nothing stopping the main characters from going out and using their powers as long as they don’t get caught. Given how many lives several instances of ignoring the Blood Oath would have saved, I can’t help but feel it was a bit arbitrary and useless. It just isn’t implemented well and I hope it is expanded on and explained better in future entries in the series.
The characters are good, if a little bit generic. We have the classic four way cast of many fantasy series’ and it doesn’t take long for them to fall in to their established role within the genre. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does make it feel a little bit cliché when reading through the dialogue and events. The characters are about 2.5 dimensions and need some real conflict and puzzle to deepen them a bit. Almost every challenge they come across is solved within a few chapters except for the main plot. That’s good for them, but makes it feel rather convenient. I’d like to see some real conflict between the characters and not the established fluff that we are given.
On the whole, the book is not bad. It’s good enough that if the price drops on the sequel, I’d grab it, but I wouldn’t ever pay full price. Especially not the Print Price.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Value: 5/5 (Free), 1/5 (Standard Listing)