Armstrong, Brett. The Gathering Dark. Benton, KY: Mantle Rock Publishing, 2019.
Summary from author’s web site
Jason is an expert at running from his past. But when it catches up, he finds himself hiding in a peculiar inn listening to a tale from centuries past.
The story is Anargen’s, a teen who is pulled from all he loves to follow his oaths of loyalty to the fabled King of the Realms. Together with his mentor, Cinaed, he rides north on a special quest to mediate peace talks between ancient foes—the men of Ecthelowall and the dwarfs of Ordumair. Nothing goes as planned. Many on both sides of the dispute despise Anargen’s Order. Worse, an arcane evil has returned to the North. This “Grey Scourge” seeks to ruin the peace talks and ensure a lost treasure held by the dwarfs is never found by those for whom it is meant.
As Anargen’s story unfolds, Jason begins to wonder whether it is truly just a fable. He soon finds himself drawn into the conflict Anargen faced. A battle which has shaped and can destroy his world.
I don’t remember when I last read a frame tale written as successfully as The Gathering Dark. Brett Armstrong introduces the main tale through the mouth of a storyteller. Throughout the tale of Anargen and his friends I could hear the voice of the old man telling the story in front of the fire in his inn. I loved the surprise in the last chapter – it was totally unexpected. Another well-done aspect of The Gathering Dark is the parallels between following the High King and following Christ, between the Knights of Light and Christians. Armstrong has created a believable fantasy world with believable characters. There are epic journeys, battles when all seems lost, mythical creatures and so much more to appeal to fantasy readers. I look forward to additional titles in the Quest of Fire series.
I would not hesitate to add The Gathering Dark to my K-12 Christian school library. This young adult fantasy novel would be appropriate for fifth grade and up. If you enjoy Christian fantasy, I highly recommend The Gathering Dark.
I want to thank Just Read Publicity Tours for the complimentary e-copy of The Gathering Dark. This is my honest review.
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