Kirins: The Spell of No’an, by James D. Priest is the first book in a trilogy, and it is an excellent start to what appears to be an entertaining new fantasy adventure. The book is a quiet, graceful novel that leads the reader softly into a captivating, splendid fantasy world.
The book creates the very real world of the Kirins, a race of foot high magical creatures (think gnomes, leprechauns, etc) who live and thrive in the forests. Two of these beings, Talli and Gilin, are unexpectedly thrust into danger, when they are tasked with finding the answer to why Kirin magic is dwindling. They, and several of their friends, embark on a quest, pursued doggedly by strange beings, finding strange perils and discoveries in their journey.
“As they progressed, Talli in the lead, the rain became heavier. They found it difficult to see, even to keep their eyes open. They were not accustomed to tolerating this sort of weather. At home when weather conditions were bothersome they stopped whatever they were doing until it was over. They never felt pressure to persist, as they did now.”
The book does an exceptional job of creating a believable world for the Kirins, and having them interact with our reality:
“Late in the morning, Gilin spied something ahead, high in the sky, a shining white body with wings and a tail, appearing to be moving in their direction. He had occasionally seen things like it from a high vantage point in the home forest, but only in the distance on the horizon, and they always seemed to be moving slowly. Among clan youngsters, rumor had it they were some type of human contrivance.”
The characters are charming and engaging and I had no problem caring about their fate as they confront obstacles. They are familiar enough to relate too, with just enough mysterious essence to hold your curiosity. The fantasy world is well crafted; it is not confusing, nor is it boring. The plot is solid and carries the reader along, although it does meander a bit, which hurts the sense of urgency of the quest. Some of the waywardness is reasonable given the fact the characters are portrayed as somewhat bewildered and out of their depth, but I would have liked a touch more tension. Still, I cannot say it detracted overly from my reading enjoyment.
I do recommend the book for fantasy lovers of all ages; it is a skillful work of fantasy fiction. Just keep in mind it is the first book in the trilogy; the Kirin quest continues in the second and third book.
Available as a free audio book here: http://www.podiobooks.com/title/kirins-the-spell-of-noan
Website For Kirins: The Spell of No’an: http://www.kirinbooks.com/Kirinbooks.com/KIRINS_Home.html
James D. Priest, M.D., majored in English at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He studied English in the masters program and received a Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Minnesota. He spent three years in Japan as a physician in the Army of the United States caring for casualties from Viet Nam, and four years in orthopedic residency at Stanford University. He practiced orthopedics in Minneapolis for twenty-one years.
In addition to "Kirins", he has authored or co-authored approximately thirty medical articles, the book for the layperson, "Beating Prostate Cancer without Surgery",and received the Minnesota Medicine Outstanding Writing Award.