Friday, July 6, 2012

Heirs of Prophecy

First of all, I apologize for the long silence.  This early summer has been a little bumpy for me, but I have lots of posts waiting to be written, so I promise more regular posts are on their way.  Thank you for being patient with me!  I was approached to participate in a blog tour for this book, Heirs of Prophecy.  I read some reviews that interested me, and I realized I hadn’t written any blog posts about chapter books in a long time, so I decided to give it a go.  And this was a fast-paced adventure that kept me reading!
The Riverton family is going on vacation.  Their father usually plans the vacations, and he chooses some…unusual places (their last vacation featured Japanese ruins and samurai sword making).  But their dad is letting them bring the family cat, Silver, so 14 year old Ryan and 12 year old Aaron figure it can’t be that bad.  Well, their vacation doesn’t go quite as planned.  The family ends up outside of Tucson, Arizona, exploring caves by canoe.  Suddenly, there is a loud rumble, and the cave collapses around them.
This is the Riverton family’s introduction to Trimoria, a world they could not have ever dreamed of.  And as they stumble through the forests, trying to find civilization, some unexplainable things begin to happen to them all.  Ryan, the oldest son, has what looks like lightning shoot out from his fingers.  Aaron, who had been previously described as “diminutive”, shows amazing strength – lifting rocks as if they were hollow.  And their mother and father, too, begin to exhibit powers they never had before.  As for Silver, well, Silver has grown enormous and even smarter than he was before.
They are incredibly lucky to find the Protector of the area, Throll, on their second day, and even luckier that he believes their story, even though it seems farfetched.  As Protector-General of the land, Throll is able to wield some power over the townspeople and gets them to believe that Jared Riverton (the boys’ father)is his old friend from another part of the land.  Oddly, Jared Riverton had been interested in blacksmithing back home in the United States, and had created a smithy in their backyard.  Here in Aubgherle, there is an urgent need for a blacksmith.
Magic is outlawed in Trimoria, and people who exhibit any type of magical powers (especially babies) mysteriously disappear.  So the odd skills that the Rivertons have gained need to be hidden from spies in the town of Aubgherle.  They practice these skills in secret, trying to gain control of their powers and learn how they function.  It becomes evident that while Ryan is the strongest wizard, his father is also a wizard of some power.  Aaron is freakishly strong, and begins to learn a variety of fighting skills and strategies.  And their mother, Aubrey, is an incredible healer.
But somehow the wizard who controls the country of Trimoria, Azazel, who is evil, becomes apprised of this unusual family and sets out to destroy them.  At the same time a “small” ogre (only seven feet tall at the start of the novel! And a vegetarian!) named Ohaobbok joins Throll’s family and the Rivertons, and he retells a strange prophecy, one that includes himself and the Riverton family.  The Rivertons’ inclusion in the prophecy makes sense.  Trimoria is nowhere near as technologically advanced as present-day United States, but the skills the Rivertons have honed in their American lives seem to translate well here.  For instance, the blacksmithing (along with the samurai sword making vacation) comes in very handy.  Jared can actually bring modern technology to creating swords in Trimoria, giving his swords an advantage.  Both Ryan and Aaron have studied martial arts for years, and that gives them an advantage as well.  All these things seem to point to their destiny – to fulfill the prophecy.
I don’t want to tell too much of the plot, because exploring the country along with the Rivertons and discovering where their destiny lies is part of the ride.  And it is definitely a ride.  The book is full of magic, elements of fantasy, and some crazy fights.  Everything is enthralling, and keeps you reading.   This book sped by – I would pick it up and find I had suddenly read 100 pages!  It is easy enough for a fifth grader to read, and perfectly suited for a middle grade audience, including plenty of adventure and danger.
The world-building Rothman does is easy to understand.  I hate fantasy books where I spend so much time figuring out how things work, or how the universe was created.  I often feel that that holds me back from really engaging with the plot, and I’ve been known to not finish fantasies that get overly complicated.  While it is a mystery how the Rivertons arrived in Trimoria (the back of the book calls it a ‘fluke of nature’, but could it be something or someone else?),  the country of Trimoria itself isn’t overly complicated.  It seems to be pretty squarely set in something resembling the Middle Ages, with an emphasis on iron, mining, and blacksmithing.  People fight with swords, daggers and bows and arrows, not guns and bombs.  And the types of creatures that populate the forests are also familiar – dwarves that mine ore, elves in an amazing magical forest glen, and ogres.  But the characterization helps keep these traditional types interesting .  I really loved the ogre, Ohaobbok – he is sweet, and yet fights for this family he has come to love.
This book includes many of the “big” fantasy themes – good v. evil, the power of magic, but adds in some new twists.  It felt fresh, and made me want to continue on to see how this series gets to the final war and an epic battle.  For there will be one – it has been foretold.  Generations of Trimorians have the same dream, and the Riverton family is front and center in that dream.
I do have a couple of minor quibbles with Rothman, though.  I have a cat of my own, and I would never take him on a family vacation.  Especially if I knew that vacation would involve canoeing along a river in addition to a plane ride.  I don’t know many cats who would agree to those conditions!  Also the Riverton family doesn’t seem to articulate any desire to return to the United States.  They seem perfectly happy in Trimoria, and while I’ve already said that they are destined to be there, I can’t help wondering if they will mention a longing for home at some point. 
Also, I would have liked a glossary or pronunciation guide for the names.  I see that book two (titled Tools of Prophecy) is already out in e-book and will be out in hardback next month, so maybe he will consider it for the prequel or book three, both of which are in the works.  I think it’s important to guide readers to the “correct” Trimorian pronunciation for names like Ohaobbok (oh, how I’d love to say that name!), Ealuanni, Azazel, and others.  The elven names are particularly tricky.  So, please, Mr. Rothman, help us out!
All in all, though, this is a fun, thrilling adventure.  I would love to know more about the Rivertons and their adventures in Trimoria, and I hope you’ll take time to explore along with them!
Rothman , Michael A.  Heirs of Prophecy.  M & S Publishing, 2012.
Sent by TLC Book Tours for review as part of a blog tour.


  1. Thanks Susan for your thoughtful comments.

    I definitely appreciate your comments especially the ones about the missing angst about wanting to go back home. You aren't the first to express exactly that same sentiment. I had actually written a scene in one of my drafts that exhibited the family looking for a way back out of the swamp toward the caves they were familiar with. During the editing process that scene did get dropped.

    I've since kicked the editor/publicist in the shins, and upon reprint of the title, I hope that scene could be reintroduced. :-)

    Thanks again.

    1. Thanks, Michael!! I would love to see that scene. They just seem so content in Trimoria, and like I said, I can see how in some respects they WOULD be content - all of their skills from their previous life are being used. On the other hand, wouldn't you miss air conditioning? :) And what about the pronunciations? Please tell me how to pronounce Ohaobbok!

  2. I'm always looking for books to capture the attention of my 10 yr old (who isn't a big reader) - this one might be a perfect fit!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.