Enchanters unfolds in modern-day Norway, in an ancient setting where it is easy to imagine that a magical adventure might pull someone of the proper ancestral blood. Billed as a new fantasy, David Bryan Russell’s tale is pleasantly surprising. It does not follow a preconceived outline of the common fantasy novel; it is purely unique and insightful.
This new storyteller has a voice with a lot of potential. Enchanters is purely a fantasy book, but the author has infused the main ideas behind the story with sociological and ecological concerns with the world at large. The story deals heavily with worries and worship of nature, as well as veiled worldwide contempt of human relations. There is very little solid character development, resulting in fairly two dimensional characters. Despite this, the book remains incredibly engaging, and pages continue turning to explore the deepening mystery. In most books, a lack of character development would be a detriment. In this one, however, it is the story that carries them, and not the other way around. So rich and complete is the story that the characters seem almost secondary to it.
A young girl goes on holiday to Norway with her parents and brother to visit their extended family – and, for Glys, to find her way home, to find her path in life. As many nineteen-year-olds are, she feels somewhat torn and confused about just where she wants her life to lead her. The tale begins with great conversations and hikes through the beautiful Norwegian hills. Then, with Glys, we fall into a world where accepted rules of reality and expectations shimmer into colorful dreams, becoming more and more fantastic with each turn of a page. When the world of mortal man collides with that of the magic realm there is a mess of trolls, ogres, and medusas, and one lone human who tries to reconcile the rifts.
That task looms impossible. The difference between emotion and ethical law seems to make peace seem unattainable. The journey spans worldly places such as Norway and Los Angeles but also takes the unlikely group to the depths of the magic Earth and to the treed peaks of the mountain realms. To please fantasy readers, the novel is full of Enchanters, Satyrs, and Changelings. Russell creates a very complete sense of the main character’s waffling confusion and fascination with this new and sometimes frightening world that she’s been introduced to.
The language is truly beautiful. It creates such a full mental and emotional sketch that even if the reader had no interest in tale it was telling, they would still have difficulty laying the book down before its conclusion. The author’s ability to bring his world to life is the gift that really makes this book come alive. The truly engaging use of words that don’t see enough time in print these days help create that pull: taste-satisfying words such as precipitous, culvert, and escarpment. Beautiful use of words like Myradelle, created to suit his purposes, bring magical images to mind. Even the names of characters and classes have a musical sound: Glys, Leanya, and Irdeyas.
Enchanters expresses a certain cynicism that can only be fought with hope and belief in something stronger and deeper than ourselves. David Bryan Russell breaks down human faults gracefully without being preachy. The story culminates in a good, strong ending that doesn’t leave the reader wanting. As a reader, it is wonderful to know there is more to come, but it is much more satisfying to put down a book that ends rather than simply stopping in the middle of the story. David Bryan Russell crafts a conclusion that wraps up the story neatly while pointing to the possibility of future adventures. His will likely not be a “new” name in the fantasy genre for long.