It’s been a few years since I last read an epic fantasy. When did the first Lord of the Rings movie come out? 2001? I think so. I remember at the time my best friend said, “We’re having a Lord of the Rings party, and we’re only inviting people who totally appreciate the book, and have read it—like you and Gary.” Panic! I grabbed a copy really quick and started reading it.
That, my friends, is not a quick read. I honestly loved, loved, loved the movies because I kept thinking, “Oh, so that’s what was going on there.” I did make it through them all at last, and the party was great, and I didn’t feel like a fraud being there, so, yeah. Good times!
Anyway, I haven’t been big on epic fantasy. I’m just going through my super-fluffy reading list (like, yesterday, I finished up a book called Revenge of the Cheerleaders by Janette Rallison. Three cheers for that book!) to give you an idea of my depth (or lack of depth) here.
Then…I was asked to read INSIGHT, the first installment in the series THE BEHOLDERS by Terron James. I’d met Terron a few times, and we’ve become pretty good friends online. His wife is a gem. Love her. Wish they’d move down here and buy the house next door to us so we could hang out and be friends. Alas.
Anyway, it was with some trepidation that I started the 400-page book. A day later, when I’d raced through it, caring about the characters and their journey and their relationships and their whole fantastical land and their powers and their family and everything, I thought, “Yeah. This is really good!”
And so with all that as preface, I hereby give you my review.
INSIGHT, the debut novel by junior high English teacher Terron James, is an epic fantasy, the first in the BEHOLDERS series. Set in Appernysia, the Appernysians are living in constant fear of bands of marauders called Rayders, who were exiled from Appernysia several hundred years before.
Brother and sister duo, Lon and Mellai Marcs, miraculously avoid a Rayder attack when Lon inexplicably creates a force field around the two of them when they are children. Because of this, their parents whisk them away from their home village in fear that the Rayders will come seeking whatever caused the force field.
The story really starts years later as Lon is about to wed the prettiest girl in their new village, and his sister Mellai is trying to avoid being wed to whomever her mother is foisting on her. Rayders attack again. Lon must make a choice—stay and protect his family or journey to the land of Rayder Exile. Either choice is fraught with danger, especially as Lon discovers he may be the key to a secret long prophesied.
The story kept me turning pages. I even got a sunburn while I read it outside. I loved that it was a clean read, something I’d gladly pass on to any of my kids. I loved that it had good action, but also a great balance of relationships. And there was some humor. Blessed humor. (Don’tcha hate it when a story takes itself so seriously there’s no humor? Such a drag.)
Anyway, if you are a fantasy reader, I highly recommend this book. If you’re not a fantasy reader but want a good gateway into the genre, this could be it!