Author: Ronald Neal Green
ISBN: 978-1-4327-1259-4
Publisher: OutskirtsPress

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What really shines in Ronald Neal Green's The Duty of Love: A Novel is its adept mix of fantasy and inspirational philosophical reflections that somehow manage to hold together, achieving an intense narrative drive. Green cleverly interplays two stories, one that accompanies two children and their father, who is a magnificent raconteur; the other follows a fairytale about a prince and his princess sister, whose kingdom is at risk of being overthrown by a diabolical wizard. Compelling written and well conceived, both stream together to create an exquisitely and deeply affecting tale of the potency of love and allegiance that will have you soaring along a roller-coaster ride of emotion and adventure.

Fantasy writing is not a simple craft and at times can be quite thorny, particularly when you simultaneously are interweaving two plots. Green pulls it off admirably with his fertile imagination, as he populates his yarn with a cast of some very endearing and unusual characters. Expect more than ordinary names and actors here. Some may even sound a trifle bizarre such as Prince Cha Cha and Princess Ta Ta, a rat named Typhus, and a wizard called Rigirus, that has great difficulty in attracting a mate. By the way, Rigirus is not your ordinary run-of-the mill wizard, for he is quite clumsy and everyone ridicules him. He also has a rat inhabiting its hair that he could turn into a human. However, Rigirus has a very serious problem, when the human turns back into a rat and he is not very assured as how to reconstruct the magic potion. And to add some melodrama to the story, Princess Ta Ta finds herself lost in the forest of Dark Wilde, after she was duped by a traitor, who had entered the royal court and corrupted her brother, the prince and her father, the king. This deceitful and sinister servant even placed spies and fellow conspirators within the castle to help her destroy the kingdom. We are in for quite a surprise when we learn the true identity of the traitor.

Co-existing alongside this fable is the interplay emerging between two young children, Charles, who suffers from melancholia and his sister Tanya, who is dying of some mysterious malady. Both are brought to life with their vivid dialogues, as every evening they tirelessly listen to their father's magical and masterful storytelling that is often appended with inspirational words of wisdom. For example, what it means never to let anybody pressure you into doing something you know is wrong, or you'll be under their spell.

In addition, to keep his readers on the edge of their seats, Green injects into the yarn some very chilling scenes, as when Tanya picks herself with a steak knife to avoid falling asleep, and a mysterious creature burying itself in her closet, reappearing nightly, while making scratching and knocking noises. Charles questions as to where this “thing” comes from and did it have anything to do with his sister's illness? He also convinces himself that if the creature could be used for cruelty, it could also be used for good and for mercy. As he states, “if it could destroy, why couldn't it create-or heal?"

In the end, it is the elegant use of language, the fully realized characterizations, and the effective play of tension and conflict that all come together to make this fantasy novel a wonderful read that continuously moves forward with an irresistible force. It is, in all, a rich and dazzling piece of work!

Click Here To Read Norm's Interview With Ronald Neal Green

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