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How about a shake-up in the paranormal/fantasy romance genre? I recently discovered a new fantasy series with romantic undertones in it and I am currently devouring everything by the author. Has anyone heard of L.J. McDonald and her Sylph Series?


   

I picked up The Battle Sylph by her on a whim and I am so glad I did! In 2010 L.J. McDonald published her first novel that is refreshingly new in the fantasy genre, at least I think so anyway. She creates an Earth like world inhabited by humans, with almost a medieval time period structure to their society; except a significant part of their culture involves elementals.  Humans have found a way to open a gateway to another dimension and entice sylphs of elemental, healer, and of warrior natures to their dimension and then trap and enslave them. Those in power feel that only men can handle the power of the sylphs and can be their masters.  Though some battles are fought with human armies, each kingdom’s military strength is determined mostly by the amount of “battlers” a country has under its control.

To entice a battler to cross-over a virgin is sacrificed and that is where we are introduced to our main female character, Solie. She was chosen as a sacrifice, but botched the ceremony and became a master to a battler.  The book focuses on Solie and her battler as they flee for their lives wrecking havoc along the way, of course!

More information can be found








Sometimes, love means war.
He is one of many: a creature of magic, unrelentingly male. He is lured through the portal by pure female beauty, a virgin sacrifice. When she is killed, he is silenced and enslaved.
Such a dark ritual is necessary, you see. Unlike their elemental cousins-those gentler sylphs of wind and fire-Battlers find no joy in everyday labor. Their magic can destroy an army or demolish a castle, and each has but one goal: find a Queen, then protect and pleasure her at all costs. What would a woman do if she were given such a servant, and what would befall any kingdom foolish enough to allow a Battler to escape?
Young Solie and the people of Eferem are about to find out.
Tagline: Sometimes, love means war.
Book Description:
He is one of many: a creature of magic, unrelentingly male. He is lured through the portal by pure female beauty, a virgin sacrifice. When she is killed, he is silenced and enslaved.
Such a dark ritual is necessary, you see. Unlike their elemental cousins-those gentler sylphs of wind and fire-Battlers find no joy in everyday labor. Their magic can destroy an army or demolish a castle, and each has but one goal: find a Queen, then protect and pleasure her at all costs. What would a woman do if she were given such a servant, and what would befall any kingdom foolish enough to allow a Battler to escape?
Young Solie and the people of Eferem are about to find out.
(I own nothing. Everything is L.J. McDonald and Dorchester Publishing House's.)



The Review:

I think McDonald is an amazing writer and she did a wonderful job of world building, creating even the smallest details. As you are reading you can visualize every moment of what is happening and you are drawn into the story. The story is well paced and the plot develops nicely with action interwoven perfectly. It is emotionally compelling and an engaging read. There is great back-story and character definition and growth.

However, it should be noted that the two main characters are young and inexperienced in the ways of the world and are therefore naïve. As events happen they do smarten up, so I wasn’t too bothered, as I genuinely wanted to find out what happened to our characters.  But, for some readers, it might detract from the story depending on your personal tastes.  I wasn’t bothered because the novel is written from several characters’ points of view, not just Solie and her battler and you were able to see how their actions affected others and the kingdom as a whole.  It was a nice balance. There are some great secondary characters and little sub-plots that leave the opportunity for more stories, but none of them take away from the main story.  Compared to some vivid romance novels on the shelves today, I would not really classify The Battle Sylph as a romance novel. There is romance, but it does not define the book. I think the scenes are tastefully done and are more descriptive than literal.  

Overall, it is a great solid debut novel and I wanted to find out what happens next so I purchased the following books which are, The Shattered Sylph and Queen of the Sylphs.  The series improves as  it moves further along, with the romance aspect really declining. So if you were uncomfortable with some of the sexual scenes in the first novel and are on the fence about getting the next one due to that aspect, the grab it! She continues with the great world building and the characters become more three dimensionalized with the romance not being so focused on.

The Battle Sylph is a great novel and worth reading (it is also in E-book format) and L.J. McDonald is an author definitely worth checking out.

L.J. McDonald continues to write and more books in the Sylph series are in the works, as well as new material. You can find out more (abour her and the Sylph Series) by checking out her website at http://www.ljmcdonald.ca/.    It was there that I learned she recently she accepted an online writer’s challenge, with a concept similar to Sue Grafton’s alphabet murder series.  In which she writes a short scene from the Sylph universe based off a word that corresponds to each letter in the alphabet. I believe she is only a few days (and letters) in, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!