The Chimes of Yawrana
Scot R. Stone
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Buy *The Chimes of Yawrana (The Snowtear Wars)* by Scot R. Stone

The Chimes of Yawrana (The Snowtear Wars)
Scot R. Stone
Behler Publications
399 pages
February 2007
rated 2 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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The story of the Snowtear Wars starts with a prophecy: one of Yawrana's prophets foresees that, after four thousand years, a group of people are going to travel to the Yawrana continent (and country) from another continent. One of the travelers is going to bring destruction, and one, called Oreus, is going to bring salvation to Yawrana. One of the seers decides to travel to the other continent and write down its customs and language so that the Yawranans can be prepared when the eight travelers arrive. He is successful and brings back writings about the customs and language of the people on the continent of Zonack. Yawranans therefore start to teach their nobles the language of the other continent for thousands of years, preparing for the great day. Apparently storms prevent any other traffic between the continents.

Four thousand years later, a group of eight travelers does indeed come to Yawrana, where they meet one of the Barons and are taken to his court. The voyagers include a young man called Oreus among them. Unfortunately, one of the travelers commits a grievous error and is sentenced to almost certain death. The rest of the voyagers are invited to the Royal Court and go there on the backs of flying mounts. There they take part in a feast and learn more about Yawranan culture. However, the King, the Queen, and some of the voyagers are poisoned during the feast, and the King dies. The Queen is very ill and has only some days to live. The seers, or Elders as they are called, manage to find out what the poison is and what its antidote is. Unfortunately, they do not have the antidote, so a small group of people must travel into great danger to get it.

The heir, Prince Noran, Oreus, and three guards fly into hostile lands to seek out the antidote, a rare flower called snowtear. On the way, they realize that an unknown hostile power is planning an attack on Yawrana. After they battle mythical foes to get the flowers they need, they learn that there are traitors among them. At the same time, an ancient force is targeting Yawrana.

This is really fantasy at its most basic level. Good people are good and bad are bad, and it is easy to distinguish them from each other. With the exception of humans, the other species seem to be either good or evil, or rather either ally to Yawrana or are hostile to it. The forces against Yawrana are shown to be cruel, uncaring, and fighting even amongst themselves, while the Yawranans and their allies are compassionate and honorable. The prince, Oreus, and other central characters are quite sympathetic and likable.

The characters are pretty standard ones to fantasy: honorable or traitorous nobles, loyal peasants, strong soldiers. Even the travelers do not have strong personalities, and it is easy to see that they are hiding something.

The Elders determine the life path of every Yawranan. This is an interesting concept, but unfortunately Stone does not get much out of it. Even though every citizen could be assigned any job, such as a healer, a soldier, a firefighter or a noble, the noble families seem to be assigned only the jobs of rulers. Or maybe there is some bribery involved? All Yawranans are also supposed to be happy with the lot in life to which they have been assigned.

The Yawranan culture is a curious mix of medieval and modern attitudes and customs. They have enough technology to have paper and clocks, they can test blood samples for poison, and almost everyone seems to be able to read. They seem to appreciate even the work of farmers and other commoners, but at the same time, they maintain a rigid feudal society. The only time during which people can move from one social class to another is at the anointment, when the Elders appoint a young person to a certain job and class. Yet their society must be either very stable and benefiting almost all people or a rigid tyranny, if there has not been even one uprising or rebellion in four thousand years. There are no signs of tyranny, though. The people are accepting of (good) outsiders, even though their whole nation has lived in almost total separation from the rest of the world for millennia.

Also, there are rather large holes in the backstory. There is apparently only one culture, one country and one language in a continent. This is, however, nothing new in a fantasy book or series, even though it is disappointing. Also, the language and culture have not changed at all for 4.000 years. A culture might stay relatively stable if the conditions are right, but even then it is very, very rare. Language, however, starts to change within a generation. The only way that neither of them have changed (on either continent!) is that some supernatural power is preventing them from changing. However, there are no sings of such a power.

The Yawranans have flying mounts, yet they have barely explored the lands around them. This is hardly plausible for a large empire, which would require new lands all the time.

Stone's writing style is easy to read and flows quickly. If you can overlook the clichés and stereotypes, Chimes of Yawrana is a quick-paced adventure with elements of humor mixed with action. Even though it is a first in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Mervi Hamalainen, 2008

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