Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review - The Battle Sylph (Sylph, Book 1) by L.J. McDonald (4/5 stars)

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Size: 336 pages

Publisher: DP
Release Date: September 15, 2011
ISBN: 978-1428514843
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Sylph series
Source: eGalley from
Rating: 4/5 stars

This the first book in the Sylph series by McDonald.  The second book is The Shattered Sylph and the third book, Queen of the Sylphs releases on September 23rd.  I got an egalley of this book to review through Netgalley(dot)com.  It was an excellent book.  I was worried that based on the beginning it would be too much of a romance; but was surprised at what a great world McDonald created and at how far-reaching the plot ended up being.

Solie is an independent woman in a nation where females are treated as the weaker sex.  Solie wants more than an old man for a husband and runs away from her arranged marriage seeking help from her aunt.  On the way Solie is kidnapped and brought to the castle to be used as a sacrifice in the summoning of a Battle Sylph.  Solie ends up escaping and accidentally binds the Battle Sylph to her.  Now Solie is on the run from the law with a new Battle Sylph by her side; she has no idea what to far as she knows a woman has never bonded a battle sylph before.

The book started out a bit corny.  Solie is bound to Heyou, the battle sylph.  Heyou is very alpha male and him and Solie have that whole drawn to love each other through fate thing going on.  That whole destined love or love at first sight thing bothers me a bit, so I was worried about what type of book this was going to be.  I shouldn't have worried there is an element of fated romance to the book, but at its heart the book is a solid fantasy set in an intriguing world.

The world building is wonderful, especially the idea of the sylphs.  The relationship between sylphs and humans seems deceptively simple at the beginning of the book; this is expanded a lot throughout the story and I was impressed and intrigued by the complexity of the sylph/human relationship.  The magic system derived from human/sylph interaction was also very creative and interesting.  There are some sex scenes in here, although they are not incredibly explicit, they make this book suited best for adults.

The characters start out a little stereotypical but as we get to know them better I really started to enjoy them.  Solie is an independent girl thrust into a role that is outside of anything anyone has ever known.  She is a very realistic character and has moments of extreme strength as well as moments of weakness and doubt.  Heyou is a bit one dimensional in the beginning too, but as he is exposed more to the human world his complexity increases.  I loved some of the side characters, for example some of the other Battle Sylphs (Mace and Rill).  These are great characters that I can't wait to read more about.

There was one thing that bothered me a little.  The language used in the book oscillates between modern slang and the rather stilted language used by the Sylphs.  But this wasn't all that consistent throughout the book.  Sometimes the Battlers also used slang and sometimes the humans sounded a bit too stilted.  A little more consistency in language patterns would have been nice (a small thing I know).  

I should also mention that the book is told from many perspectives.  It focuses on Solie and Heyou; but other characters' stories are told from other points of view as well.  Usually this kind of bothers me because it makes the story lose focus, but in this case it seemed to work really well.  

The story is nicely tied up, with some possibilities left open for future stories.

Overall I really enjoyed this book.  I was impressed with the world and with the complex human/sylph relationship.  I enjoyed learning about this new world and was impressed with what a solid fantasy story this was, there is romance here but it isn't the focus of the whole story.  I loved the characters; they started out a little weak but developed into characters I was engaged and intrigued with.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book.  I will definitely be picking up The Shattered Sylph
 to read.  Fans of fantasy with some romance throughout should enjoy this book.  I think fans of paranormal romance will also enjoy this foray into fantasy.  

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

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