The Ryn: Book One of the Eyes of E’veria by Serena Chase
Amazon Book Description:
Centuries ago, an oracle foretold of the young woman who would defeat E’veria’s most ancient enemy, the Cobelds. But after two centuries of relative peace, both the prophecy and the Cobelds have been relegated to lore–and only a few remain watchful for the promised Ryn. Finally, a child is born who matches the oracle’s description, but a Cobeld curse accompanies her birth. Led to believe they succeeded in killing the prophesied child, the Cobelds emerge from hiding with plans to overtake the Kingdom. But the child survived. Secreted away and called “Rose” for the first nineteen years of her life, Rynnaia E’veri has no idea of her true identity until a chance meeting with an injured knight reveals not only her parentage and true name, but the task assigned her by the oracle: discover the Remedy that will destroy the Cobelds’ power. Now, her time has come. Offered the assistance of pirates, scribes, storytellers, a young woman who died centuries ago, and the knight who is quickly working his way into her heart, Rynnaia is fortified with friends. But if the Ryn is to complete her task, she must come to terms with not only who she is, but for whom she must be willing to die. For the kingdom’s survival depends on her. THE RYN begins an epic re-imagining of the classic Grimm fairy tale, Snow White & Rose Red, which concludes in Eyes of E’veria book two: THE REMEDY. …but the Eyes of E’veria series is only beginning.
I admit my attention was first caught by the stunning cover of the second book in this series, The Remedy, but then I saw the description for Book One and I had to read it. A spin on Grimm Fairy Tales is nothing new, but some authors really sell it and others miss the mark. The Ryn was certainly in the former category.
The Plot – Grade A
While based on the tale of Rose Red and Snow White, Chase expounds upon the simple fairytale and creates a rich tapestry for her fantasy. While the first book is just over 500 pages long, I never found a moment where it felt as though the plot was slowing down to a crawl. Rynnaia, or Rose as she is called in part one of the book, is a very relatable heroine. Not perfect but not annoyingly inept either. As details about her past come to life, she doesn’t just accept it with a smile and excitement as so often happens. Instead, she shows the shock and anger and worry about living up to much higher expectations than before that one would expect in this sort of situation. She can also be brash on occasion as she is introduced as a teenager who has “borrowed” her guardian’s horse and ridden further than the elected boundaries. However, I appreciated the fact that she does experience consequences for her disobedience and even realizes later on that her actions can have far-reaching consequences. There are several places where anyone who is familiar with the Grimm fairytale of Rose Red and Snow White can see a clear correlation between the scenes or an element Chase writes about, but everything has a different twist than what you might immediately expect. There is a plot twist in the last 25% of the book that I didn’t see coming, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it was executed so it doesn’t feel contrived. Even the plot is not fully resolved at the end, it still stands on its own well enough that it doesn’t feel incomplete. It felt like a natural pause for intermission.
Content – Grade A
This is truly clean fantasy. While there is a hint of a romance brewing between Rose and her knight, they don’t even make it as far as a kiss in this book. Handholding, yes, but no kissing. The romance and Rose’s initial fascination/crush on her knight is handled in a sweet manner but it doesn’t overwhelm the quest for information. There is an age difference with Rose being not quite 19 when they meet while her knight is 27, but since this thankfully doesn’t happen when she is sixteen, it’s not uncomfortable. It also helps that the knights of the kingdom are held to a strict code of honor and propriety.
There are a few instances of violence (primarily when the Cobelds are around), but it’s essentially bloodless. There is also an accusation of Rose being illegitimate in the beginning chapters due to one minor character’s hatred of her (this was addressed as being motivated by that character’s past and not just a random “I hate you because you’re the heroine” motive), which troubles her deeply (as it should) and was brought up rather painfully when her uncle came to visit as he was her original guardian and the accuser claimed he must really be Rose’s father. The emotions run high and intense, but it is handled in a tasteful manner without resorting to crassness. This question of Rose’s parentage since she has no patronymic leaves an imprint on her and makes things awkward/difficult when she finally learns who her father really is as she does have anger and bitterness to work through in regards to his non-presence in her life growing up.
Spiritually, there isn’t a heavy emphasis on things at first since Rose’s foster family doesn’t have a relationship with the Creator other than knowing that the Creator exists and obviously created the world and gave the people all their different gifts. Part of Rose’s journey of self-discovery as Rynnaia is finally learning what and who Truth is. This is most obvious in the last 25% of the book when she has her spiritual encounter with the Living Truth, complete with a baptism by immersion at the culmination of her spiritual journey. Yet, this was not heavy-handed. Ryn questions the seemingly contradictory elements of the tale yet she is not scorned for having doubts or not understanding what the others mean. In fact, it is acknowledged that she lacked the spiritual training others received due to the fact that most of people in the Kingdom have never heard the Truth due to errors in judgment on part of those who had been trusted to study and carry out the Truth. This was one of the best handlings of a character’s spiritual search and conversion I’ve read in a long time.
Technical – Grade A-
This book was superbly edited. In a little over 500 pages, I found only five errors, three typos and two places where there was a space missing between the period and the beginning of the next sentence. These errors didn’t even show up until I was over 200 pages into the story. There are some places where the paragraphs had some wonky formatting (basically three spaces between words) in the first sentence but I’m confident in calling those Kindle-only issues. The only reason I didn’t give a higher score on the technical is due to the fact that once we get to the part where Ryn’s telepathy begins to develop and she is being trained by the rest of her people to communicate with her thoughts, there is nothing to mark the conversations as separate from the first person narration. Having the conversation in unmarked text would have worked if the book had been narrated in third person. But, due to the first person narration, I was lost a few times at what was narration and what was the thoughts-only conversation. It would have been better if Chase had italicized the telepathy.
Final Grade – an A or 5 stars
Overall, this book was an excellent and pleasant Christian fantasy that defies the stigmas still attached to indie authors. The plot moves forward and kept me engaged without causing my inner editor or my inner writer angst due to “how would I have written this differently” musings. I am quite eager to read the next book (not to mention the rest of the series). I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of epic fantasies and imaginative retellings of classic Grimm fairytales and who also enjoys a clean, sweet romance as a side development. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
The Ryn is available through Kindle and paperback.
Next Week – A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist by Sophronia Belle Lyon