A Peek At Adrastea, Enthralling, Tolkien-Inspired Fantasy By Anastasia Vincent
Adrastea is quite unlike popular teen fantasy. It is traditional, heroic, medieval, Tolkien-inspired stuff which operates on the principles of old-fashioned virtue. But don’t worry, the virtue part will not get in the way. The book is a thrilling, utterly enjoyable read of the page-turning kind. You will experience heart wrenching tragedy, comedy, suspense, mystery and some unexpected plot twists.
The characters are 'types' imbued with color, the members of the Shefro race literally glow. They are pleasingly familiar in their traditional roles and functions. The characters feel like they have stepped out of an old black and white movie where stalwart heroes battle evil villains. No anti-heroes here. No embracing of the dark side in your soul. That does not mean, however, that the characters are static. They are not classic medieval 'types'. The protagonist Adrastea, especially, starts out as a rather unlikable girl who slowly grows in virtue.
Without giving away too much, I will give you some glimpses at what awaits you in the World of Orbis.
There is Adrastea, Princess of the antlered Cievo people, who witnesses the murder of her royal parents by a scar-faced Human. This tragic experience intensifies her hatred for the Humans, already strong among the Cievo.
There is the brave, young scout Evert, who holds the ungrateful position of bodyguard to unruly Adrastea, and whom we cannot help but love. There is Haldit, Brother to the murdered King, the evil, scheming Stewart of the Cievo, whom we love to hate.
Another character worth mentioning is the dapper Human girl Daphne, a clumsy acrobat, who provides comic relief. More important, Daphne exemplifies true friendship which ultimately overcomes racial prejudice with love.
Adrastea is burdened with more than her fair share of tragedy. Her growth from willful, attention starved, thirteen-year-old to wounded but responsible adult exemplifies to teens that adversity can be overcome. Adrastea is often close to despair, there is even a moment with a hint of suicidal thought, but the Princess never gives in to such feelings. We meet Adrastea as a vulnerable girl, rejected by her parents and her brother at a young age. She has never been emotionally prepared for adversity. However, her defiant spirit keeps the Princess going, sustained by the thirst for revenge. In the company of bandits, she becomes tough and bitter, indulging in prejudice and hatred. However, she eventually overcomes her brokenness and heals enough to accept her responsibility as Princess to her people. There is no happy-ever-after ending, but there is a light of hope for Adrastea, a goal to achieve and a purpose to fulfill. We are reminded of Frodo on his way to Mordor. The open ending is quite realistic and somehow satisfying, and it makes us thirst for the next book in the series to discover Adrastea's role in the battle for Orbis.
The story has elements of the fairy tale, although, in this book of the Annals of Orbis, the supernatural is low-key. With quite a crowd of characters, five different races in their five kingdoms, and a universal geography, this series is reaching more toward the epic fantasy of Tolkien.
In the exotic, medieval-style setting of Orbis, teens can be heroes rather than victims, empowered by means not available in today’s world: discipline, toughness, martial arts expertise, responsibility, supreme competence and life skills, wise mentors, virtuous friends. They grow in the face of challenges: an evil enemy and his cowardly minions to overcome, a witch with magic powers, and a mysterious threat to the entire World of Orbis.
The overarching theme of Adrastea is what every teen seeks, a purpose in life, a high purpose beyond their own little world, a heroic purpose worth all the suffering and sacrifice placed on the heroine Adrastea and her companions in the colorful World of Orbis.
This is a story for teenage souls and for adults who remember being teens. The heroic characters in their medieval-style setting speak and think like contemporary teens with their dialog modified for literary purposes. The effect is somewhat reminiscent of time-traveling Dr. Who and quite acceptable to the modern reader.
Uncharacteristically, there is no romance. Her tragic experiences leave Adrastea alone, outside of the community, but with a sense of purpose - like Frodo. Tolkien again!
Is this a Christian book? Not overtly so. However, it is Christian in the way of The Lord of the Rings. The World of Orbis is built in the spirit of Christianity. Adrastea is definitely a good book for Catholic teens!
Enjoy Adrastea, Book One in the Annals of Orbis. The author is hard at work on book two, titled Deirdre, due in Spring 2021.