Monday, March 8, 2010

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: The Battle Sylph by L.J. McDonald

ISBN 9780843963007
Series: The Sylph Series, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
(c) March 2010, Leisure Books, Dorchester Publishing
L.J. McDonald's website

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"Fantastic worldbuilding, diverse characters, magic and a magnificent fantasy adventure in a whole new world!"

With the prevalence of vampires and werewolves and demons, L.J. McDonald's unique worldbuilding blew me away. She has created a fantastic world of sylphs and the humans to whom they were bound. The sylphs were elemental spirits (air, water, fire, earth and healing sylphs) and of course, there were the battle sylphs that protected the hive. Sylphs lived in hives with a queen as the leader and she could take one or more battlers as mates. Think bee hive with the queen bee and her drones and worker bees and soldier bees.

Actually, the sylphs originally lived in another world and they were lured over to this Earthlike world (the action mostly take place in the kingdoms of Eferem and Para Dubh) and bound to one human master. The battle sylphs were attracted to the promise of the woman used as a sacrifice, and this woman was to be their queen (their love and mate), but the human man who was to gain the battler would kill the woman and bound the battler to him instead.

Read more about the sylphs.

The characterization is wonderful and unique for the characters being portrayed. Because the story is told from several points of view, we note how the narrative and the conversation differed for each character based on the character's age, background, experience and individual personality and circumstances. This makes for a holistic reading experience, wherein the reader gets to see the world from different sets of eyes.

For example, both Heyou and Solie are young, and we are made aware of this in their individual narration and in their actions. Whereas Leon Petrule as the king's head of security is an adult and seasoned soldier, and this can be seen in the way he acted and make decisions and in his thought processes. Not only that, but he is certainly not a sterotypical villain. He might well be the character that underwent the most radical change in the story.

The pivotal characters in this story are Solie, who defied the sacrificial death appointed to her, and Heyou, the battler who became bound to her.

Solie is seventeen years old, and she is young and sheltered, having never gone beyond her own and her aunt's villages. However, she is taught by her aunt to be strong and independent in the sense that she didn't need a man, if she didn't want one. This served her in good stead when she was captured to be a sacrifice to lure a battler over for the crown prince.

Heyou isn't your common hero as well. Though he is a battler, he is young and untried when he first crossed the gate to be bound to Solie. Yet for all that, he knew his duty is to defend and protect the queen and the hive with all that he has, even to the point of death. I like the part where he had established a bond with Galway, a trapper who had rescued him when Heyou was near death. Because Heyou is young and reminds him of his son, Galway acts like a mentor and father figure to him, something unheard of in the usual relationship between a battler and his master, which usually includes lots of hate.

Both Solie and Heyou did grow some over the course of the book, especially Solie as she needed to adjust to her new role. For all that she's young, Solie is smart, and she knew that she needed help and wasn't too proud to ask for it. Even in her inexperience, she rose to the occasion when needful and that is something to admire. Having such young protagonists who act their age would've taken away much of my enjoyment from the book had it not been for the balance provided by the adult characters surrounding them, like Leon, Galway and the two battlers Mace and Ril.

However, lest I give you a wrong impression, the story doesn't just focus on Solie's and Heyou's romance. No, there is so much more going on, like how they'd unwittingly made an enemy of the king and the possible consequences of that, and about how the sylphs are making a new hive in Eferem and the ways they're going to impact the world. That said, I'm interested to see how Solie and Heyou would have grown over the years, and I'm especially curious to know how Ril's and Lizzie's fate would play out in the next book, The Shattered Sylph.

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

And this review marks the start of our new feature called Author Week!

This week, we have L.J. McDonald here with us, who will grace us with excerpts from her books (the sequel THE SHATTERED SYLPH is out next month, in case you're interested to know) and an interview! She'll be around, so if you have any questions, ask away!

Because we here at The Raving Readers love this book so much, we're giving away one copy of The Battle Sylph to a lucky winner! What's more, Dorchester Publishing has offered five additional copies for giveaway, so there will be six (6) lucky winners instead! Yay! Thank you, Dorchester!

And there's no geographical restriction, so everyone who lives on planet Earth, even the penguins in Antarctica, is welcome to cast your name into the hat.

How to enter?

Today's question: What is the best paranormal story/series you've read? Why do you love it?

Extra chances to win:
+ 3 if you're a follower of this blog
+ 2 if you follow us on Facebook or Twitter
+ 2 if you take our poster (located on the right sidebar) about this contest and post it
           on your blog/website with a link back to us
+ 1 for every time you spread the word about this contest via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter,
           your blog, website or other form of social media. For example, you tweeted about
           this contest twice and also announced it on your Facebook. You also wrote a blog
           post. That's 4 additional chances! However, for these to qualify, be sure to come
           back here and post the links. Like, if you tweeted twice, give me both links.

If you do all of the above, at a minimum, that's 9 chances to win!

Contest ends on March 12 (Friday), 1159pm EST.

Winner will be picked via and announced on March 13 (Saturday).

Good luck!


Sunny G said...

What an awesome giveaway! I'd so love to win a copy.

Ok. Ah...I love CL Wilson's Tairen Soul series, because of the fey, especially the men. Who wouldn't fall in love with such men, men who make it their life to protect their women? But I wish the last book would come soon! I'm dying to know how Ellysetta turns out.

Erotic Horizon said...

I have been waiting on this giveaway...

I am a fan of Amanda Ashley's work...

I started wih The Captive and never looked back...


Robin K said...

The best series I have read is the Dark-Hunter novels by Sherrilyn Kenyon. The characters are facinating and the writing is spectactular. my favorite book in the set is Acheron followed by the first book Fantasy Lover.

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Jackie Uhrmacher said...

I'm a series addict. Seriously. It's an illness. : ) Would love to read this one!!

+2 Twitter Follower (JackieUhrmacher)
+1 Twitted. Tweeted. What's the propular verbiage?? I'm lost! lol

L.J. McDonald said...

Hello everyone. Just wanted to say hi and let everybody know that I definitely am watching the comments for this page, in case anyone has any questions. Thanks for entering the contest.

Minou14 said...

I really liked Catspaw by Joan D. Vinge. The characters and the premise really pulled me in.

I'm looking forward to reading the Battle Sylph! It's been in my Amazon wish list since I first heard about it.

Steph said...

I have to agree with the Dark-Hunter series. I love anything to do with gods and goddesses, always have.

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Jo Spurrier said...

I'm so glad The Battle Sylph is available through the Book Depository, and I can't wait to read it.

I tend to read more epic fantasy than paranormal, but my favourite paranormal series has to be Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. I love the mix of mythologies and the fact that the books don't all revolve around vampires and werewolves. The series has some of my favourite characters, and I really enjoy the progression of Harry from loner to having a network of friends and comrades who he can rely on and who rely on him.

Congrats on your first release, LJ!

Chachic said...

I haven't read a lot of paranormal books but my favorite so far is Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series because I love the world that she created and both Elena and Raphael are awesome characters.

Yay for international giveaways! The Battle Sylph looks real interesting.

+ 3 I'm a follower of this blog

L.J. McDonald said...

Thanks, Jo.

Katrina said...

Yay for international giveaways indeed! Unfortunately, I've already bought and read my copy of the book and I love it! LJ, what an awesome debut! Congratulations!

Silver, wonderful review, as always.

I have questions for LJ. How did the humans ever learn to open the gates for the sylphs to pass through? And how did they know how to bind the sylphs to them? I don't know if those questions were ever answered in the story, or if they will be answered in future books. It's something that's been bugging me. Thanks!

adrienne said...

Oh, sounds like an interesting book!

I really like Kelley Armstrong's books. I have to confess that I might prefer the Darkest Powers trilogy (so far), but I like them all. The characters are great, and the books are always a good read.

CallMeKayla said...

Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series!! I just love her characetrs, she is an amazing writer!

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Leontine said...

Since I've just read Pleasure Of A Dark Prince the love for Kresley Cole'Immortal's After Dark series. This series just has is all, not only great storytelling but larget then life characters too. The humor is fantastic and, who am I kidding, I'm just such an IAD fangirl :)

I'm following you guys of course on the blog and I'm posting your banner on my blog today! I'm also a citizen of planet earth - or so my mother tells me - so count me in for the giveaway :D

L.J. McDonald said...

Katrina, I'm pleased you like the book and thanks for your question.

How the first sylph came through to the human world would would make a very interesting story, now wouldn't it? Now that you've brought it up, I'm going to have to write it, now aren't I?

I do know the answer. I just hadn't really put it anywhere.

Katrina said... that means you aren't answering my question? *pout*

Haha...just joking. If you aren't at liberty to disclose, that's fine. I'll know the answer sooner or later, I'll bet. :)

L.J. McDonald said...

LOL. I guess I'm not, am I? I think the answer to that just has too much potential to give away in a little comment on a blog, lovely though that blog may be. The answer might even be worthy of an entire book of its own.

Spav said...

The best paranormal series I've read is the Mercy Thompson one by Patricia Briggs. Although the Sookie series and the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews come to a close second and third.

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Katrina said...

That's ok, LJ! I totally understand and I'm cool with it. :)

Frank Bergone said...

Hello Lori, I love this series, it is really well written.

Silver @ TRR said...

Thanks for all the recs, guys! Looks like my TBR pile is gonna grow higher and it's already very, very high. But still, all for love of a good book... LOL

Sunny G, I love the Tairen Soul series, but my blogmate Shana uh...disliked the slow pace. (Hate would be too strong a word.)

I've heard a lot about Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters, Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series, Nalini Singh and Kresley Cole. I haven't heard about the others, but I'll certainly look them up. Oh, for more time in a day...and for someone to support me so I can indulge in books in all day. LOL

Scorpio M. said...

My favorite paranormal series is the Sookie Stackhouse set by Charlaine Harris. Sookie, Bill & Eric, et al are easy to like and I love all the challenges Sookie has to face.

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The BadMan said...

Hi L.J. it is great to see you published. You have new abd wonderfull ideas.

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