After uncovering King Jasteroth's secret plot to conquer the Eastern Realm, Princess Ariella and her Royal Guards must embark on the perilous journey to Oclesedor...
However, they soon become the targets of the Commander of the Black Magic Sorcerers and his ruthless fire-breathing abomination. Ariella begins to doubt where the loyalties of her company lie as the troublesome pair effortlessly track her every move. Are the Black Magic Sorcerers' untimely appearances purely coincidental or is there a traitor amongst them?
Jealousy, obsession, and the struggle for control threaten to tear her company apart before they reach Oclesedor as they're faced with enemies on the road and in their ranks. Can they deliver the time-sensitive warning and save Oclesedor from certain demise or will King Jasteroth rule once more...
Plot: Very much an in-between chapter in a series, S.L. Wyllie's The Legacy of King Jasteroth story mostly concerns journeys and (apparent) betrayals as Princess Ariella and her retinue try to make their way to Oclesedor before the Black Magic Sorcerers and their commander Decius destroy them. The narrative suffers from the fact that this volume doesn't offer much in the way of clear explanations. Wyllie still proves a compelling storyteller, inventing new dangers and complications in every chapter, shrewdly switching perspectives to heighten tension, and always investing her scenes with high emotion. The book boasts a rawness and urgency appropriate to a story about being on the run and uncertain who to trust, even if new readers (or readers who haven't recently tackled the first volume) might be racing to catch up. That said, some of the brief chapters from the villains' perspective have a feeling of filler.
Prose/Style: Wyllie treats readers to strong fantasy dialogue, and she's as comfortable writing vigorous (bloody!) action as she is charting the drift of thought of her characters. But incidental business between characters in a scene tends toward a clunky wordiness: "Turning his attention back to the road, he caught sight of the center of a shallow crater, a few scattered bone fragments remaining."
Originality: While her story tours readers through a familiar world populated by fantasy types, Wyllie proves consistently inventive in her character work, in the variety of dangers her heroes face, in her monsters and magic, and in the prickly and uncertain loyalties of her cast. She's especially good at teasing out mysteries and guiding readers to wonder and worry along with her characters. This fantasy story breaks no molds, but it keeps readers guessing and uncertain.
Character Development: Detailing a journey, Wyllie's novel revels in momentum, but not just in the way it crosses the Realms and races through its story. The book's greatest strength is the way chapters are powered along by the ever-mounting fears, suspicions, and actions of Ariella, its key perspective character. Ariella's reactions to the dangers, wonders, and possible betrayals all around her drive the story even more than the action. Wyllie excels at getting into characters' heads and seems so confident doing so that that such passages generally read without that wordy clunkiness that bogs down some passages of observation and incidental action. Ariella's companions get fleshed out in dialogue and persuasive detail, as do the fairies and beasts they meet.
Date Submitted: August 19, 2019
"Strap yourselves in. It’s about to get magical. Journey to Oclesedor is exactly the type of sequel you’re hoping for... S.L. Wyllie is in the midst of a truly exciting YA Fantasy series."
"The second installment of S.L. Wyllie’s Legacy of King Jasteroth series, The Journey to Oclesedor is a high-fantasy feast for the senses and a thrilling adventure to boot. Following on strong from Volume 1, Princess Ariella and other familiar faces are back with an epic quest before them, a desperate bid to outrun the insidious evil of King Jasteroth and live to fight another day. Overflowing with descriptive passages, vivid battle scenes, mythical monsters and innovative magic, this sophomore release from Wyllie delivers a classic, but visceral thrill."