The Battle Sylph
L.J. McDonald
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Buy *The Battle Sylph* by L.J. McDonald online

The Battle Sylph
L.J. McDonald
323 pages
February 2010
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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The back cover of my copy of The Battle Sylph likens it to the Tairen Soul series by C.L. Wilson. That's a good recommendation - I very much enjoyed those books and, having read The Battle Sylph, find it a valid comparison.

The Battle Sylph takes place in a world where a few people have 'sylphs' - entities affiliated with various elements (earth, fire, air) which serve particular humans to whom they are bound. There is also a special sylph type: a Battle Sylph, a fearsome fighter but known for its rage against its master.

When the story starts, it's clear that the heroine, Solie, is in danger. Trying to avoid a marriage, she sets off to visit a relative but is kidnapped on the way by the king's men, who need a virgin to sacrifice in order to bring another Battle Sylph through the portal. But Solie isn't entirely helpless, and it all goes badly wrong - she ends up as the master of the battle sylph and together they flee. They find relative safety in a community of outcasts, but how can they keep themselves safe against the Battle Sylphs of the king and other dangers?

This story is told from several different points of view. Initially I wasn't sure that I liked this method of narration, but it serves to allow the different plot threads to develop well; by the end, I thought it worked excellently. There is a wide variety of characters whom I liked, and the focus on different lead characters works well.

What also works excellently is the way in which the author gradually unfolds the world of the sylphs and why they behave the way they do - particularly why battle sylphs are full of hate for their masters. I like the way that certain of the humans come to realize how the land lies, too, and how they deal with what has happened in the past in binding sylphs to them.

I very much look forward to reading the next book which features Ril, one of the Battle Sylphs from this book, and will enjoy visiting this world again with its mixture of characters, politics and battle situations.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Helen Hancox, 2010

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