Jolea M. Harrison has taken the fantasy genre world by storm in her meticulously crafted, skillfully written and thoughtful epic Chosen (Guardians of the Word, Book 1). Chosen is a sweeping fictional treasure poised to delight fantasy lovers and seduce readers who may not be as well versed to the genre. I belong to the latter group. I’m not someone who seeks out fantasy works. But I consider myself a questioning reader who wants to become mentally and emotionally involved with characters.
Harrison writes with such purpose and intensity that a reader can’t just passively absorb words on the page. Rather, you become involved with these characters. There is both suspense and mystery at play in this book. Further, you feel the characters’ urgency and realize what is at stake. The end result for the reader is a heart pounding page turner.
I’m a twin so the initial allure of Chosen was its focus on twin protagonists. Dynan and Dain Telaerin are princes and telepathic twins whose destinies were shaped a thousand years ago when their royal ancestors fought to rid the world of demonic evil. This premise certainly feeds a reader’s appetite. I would argue that a book that proceeds along a suspenseful vein must give its hero seemingly insurmountable obstacles. We need to see the hero possibly risk everything and sacrifice himself for the greater good. Harrison succeeds in laying this framework.
Her challenge, though, is to create the historical context for our hero’s journey. While Dain serves a crucial role in this story, it is Dynan who is the focal point. What I like is how Harrison is adept at distinguishing the personalities of Dain and Dynan. Some authors fall into the trap of believing that twins must be clones of each other. Physical similarities should not give an author permission to write twin characters as clones. Harrison is such a talented writer that I was quickly able to differentiate Dain and Dynan through their speech and mannerisms.
In addition, Harrison reveals the powerful twin bond throughout the story. The whole time that Dynan was confronting evil and trying to save the world, thoughts of Dain weren’t far from his mind.
Harrison has flawlessly built a world where her descriptive writing style brings geography and history to life. Similarly, the fantastical elements of this novel are frightening as I believe should be when characters wrestle with evil and one’s soul is on the line. Readers will understand what it means to be guardians of the word and how much is truly at stake. Sometimes when a book is as action packed as this book is it runs the risk of losing sight of characters’ emotions. Not so here. There are many places in the plot where the reader can feel what the characters’ are facing. Life and death and good and evil are themes that lend themselves to introspection.
Harrison did a wonderful job with character development, pacing, description, dialogue and plot. We witness success for the core characters, but their job is far from over. Their destinies are far from fulfilled. Fortunately for readers, Chosen is the first book in the series. There are more marvelous books in this series to explore.