Title: The Black Orb
Author: Sabine A. Reed
Publisher: Uncial Press
The Black Orb is an excellent traditional fantasy, a quest with all the elements enjoyed by fans of the genre. Essentially, a plucky heroine and her guide search for the object of power that will overcome an evil queen, and free the heroine’s brother and the people of their kingdom from the queen’s compulsion.
Aria is a young conniving thief and a con artist, living in the city of Kalaba. When her brother Marcus is taken prisoner by the Queen of Azmeer, Aria embarks on a desperate quest to free him. To save her brother, she has to enlist the help of an old wizard, Bikkar, who is critical of her thieving habits. The way to sever the power of the Queen is to break her magical weapon, the Black Orb, with which she plans to enslave not only her own subjects but other kingdoms also. In order to gain access to the Dragon Claw, the only weapon that can destroy the Black Orb, Aria has to travel with Bikkar to the end of the kingdom and enter the mythical Forest of the Drayds, fight with the stone warriors and endure the company of the old man whom she secretly despises.
I enjoyed the characters very much. Both Aria and Bikkar came alive for me as did the world they lived in. The growth in their relationship and in Aria’s sense of responsibility was skilfully done. The descriptions, particularly of the Forest of the Drayds, were very evocative without being wordy, and the magnificent scene at the end leapt off the page with vibrancy.
The ending left me feeling satisfied, as you do after enjoying an excellent meal.
The only issue I had with it was a slight tendency early on to overstate things, for example we are told several times that Aria would do anything for her brother. Once was enough; after that we could see what she was doing, we didn’t need to be told it. This tendency didn’t continue into the rest of the book, however, and would be solved easily with the deletion of a few lines here and there. The author may well do this in the electronic version at some stage, so don’t let this put you off buying the book. I feel that this is an author with great potential.