I recently purchased a copy of Heroes Arise. The first thing I noticed was Komenar’s professional “packaging” of the novel—especially the arresting jacket and interior artwork, a thoughtfully-designed layout that makes the reader want to open the book. It is obvious to me that this publisher takes care of its writers and wants to sell books.
As for the story itself, writing instructors tell us that a strong sense of place and characterization is everything in fantasy, and these elements are evident from the first page to the last in Heroes Arise. In less than two hundred pages, Laurel has developed a fantasy world complete with its own mythology, customs and culture, complete with fully-fleshed out characters, of “kren,” a nomadic people divided into desert kren and mountain kren (whose physical form could best be described as reptilian-ish), and the occasional human, that clash constantly with each other. Gundack, a trader and tribal leader of a band of mountain kren, and a human, Rheemar, also a trader, form an unlikely alliance. Gundack seeks revenge, in the prescribed manner of his people, for the murder of his wife, Talla, and Rheemar is searching for his sister, stolen by the vicious mountain kren leader, Tarr. Rheemar, however, is holding back secrets, refusing to reveal facts that would make their quest easier. This sets up the conflict, which results in a real page turner.
Love and honor, vengeance, hate and redemption are the main themes, and violence—horrific and ugly at times—abounds. But in this quest for justice and reconciliation, there is also heroism, tenderness and compassion.
All in all, this is a worthy read and debut for a writer, who first came to my attention back in 1996, with her Second Place finish in Calliope’s annual fiction contest, “Real Vampires Don’t Snore.” (Issue #64) For those without archived issues, it was a rollicking, laugh-out-loud story about a young woman vampire whose parents have been trying to marry her off to Norman Hines, a nerdy vegetarian vampire who faints at the sight of meat. (The review of "Heroes Arise" no longer is posted online.)
Causes Laurel Hill Supports
Winter Nights Shelter and Shelter, Inc.