Author: E.P. Marcellin

Publisher: Tate Publishing

ISBN 978-1-61663-658-6

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The day begins like any other for Rhet  and his friend Peteal , both impoverished young men in the village of D’shee, where they gut fish for a living. But  before long, they find themselves picked out of a line up by a group of strange and exotic women,  bound by magical ‘ropes’ of wind and marching across the mountains toward a life of imprisonment . For Rhet just might be Za Din,  a great and terrible force of destruction predicted in an ancient prophecy, and the women – part of a select sisterhood called the Daughters of the Y’dah – intend to have their suspicions confirmed by their leader, the mysterious Za Mien Da. Among these women is young Soralin, who finds she is connected somehow to Rhet and soon helps him escape from captivity. Rhet, in turn, discovers powers he never knew he had, that allow him to manipulate the wind, and heal the mortally wounded. Rather reminiscent of ‘The Last Airbender; Nickelodeon’s acclaimed animated saga, ‘Element Keepers’ suggests the presence of other clans that can influence different elements – water, earth, fire – that Rhet must find, and possibly befriend,  before the Y’dah capture him. 

Element Keepers deftly juggles multiple plot lines. The young men are separated when Peteal , sold off as a slave,  is recruited into a   gladiator boot camp  of sorts, where he proves to be a skilled fighter and rises rapidly in the ranks. But destiny proves to have greater plans  for him -   a spontaneous mutiny among the  fighters leads to the overthrowing of the city Senate, and the crowning of Peteal  - rechristened Lorn – as the new king. Meanwhile, an unfortunate accident causes  Peteal’s sister Brandeis and a young barmaid, E’eshta,  to flee for their lives. They meet  the charming – and thieving – Kish, and the unlikely trio soon find themselves disguised and on the road to the grand city of Krindi, where their paths collide with Rhet’s. On the run from the Y’dah, Rhet and Soralin  now find themselves in a race against time to discover the truth behind the prophecy and the destiny that awaits the man who will be Za Din.

Element Keepers  is a conventional fantasy, brimming with characters, prophecy-driven events, sorcery and  mystery. Romance too, as Rhet and Soralin  feel their way around the strange connection that binds them, while Kish and Brandeis engage in some energetic verbal sparring . The book keeps up a brisk pace for the most part, whisking its characters from one adventure to the next, while hinting  tantalizingly at greater intrigue waiting in the wings. While the series looks promising, I do hope that author E. P. Marcellin will allow her female characters room to grow, and emerge from the shadows of the charismatic male trinity -  Rhet, Kish and Peteal  - that currently dominates her story.

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