Friday, August 31, 2018

The Vanishing Tomb

Aerwild Adventures #1 by Madison Trupp

Canadian author Madison Trupp dedicates the first entry of her Aerwild Adventures series to CJ and Dana for their patience, alongside Matthew for support and critiques. The story opens with a prologue in the world’s year 316 in the winter, when a dog named Tobe has a mysterious dream of being a fish swimming upriver. Each of the main chapters opens with a tidbit about the novel’s world, such as the river Weywater feeding the Northern Foothills, and the village of Fellriver being a riverside hunting community founded a century before the book’s time.

In the beginning, Tobe seeks his lupine friend Hila Hangmaw, with the two talking about the novel’s chief backstory involving the Great Mage, a stag named Pyr Firebolt, who killed the Titan Snake with the power of the Aer, sort of analogous with the Star Wars franchise’s Force. Tobe’s father Luka Sunshard stopped returning home from missions with Pyr seven years before the narrative’s timeframe, the Great Mage himself dying a week before.

A raccoon named Maho of Gilderill comes with a message from the cougar Shego the Sage for the bear Roark Bravehunter indicating that some of the sick and elderly are missing from the village, and many graves from the cemetery being suddenly empty. Tobe wants to help solve this mystery, facing initial discouragement from his mother Kora Sunshard. The adults gather at the Fire Hall to discuss action to take, while Tobe and Hila visit the graveyard at night, seeing the specter of a hunched bison and seeing a vixen in the flesh named Rishrim Swiftfoot, one of the Great Mage’s apprentices.

Tobe, Hila, and Rishrim ultimately summon a tracking spell to find the lost visitors, crossing the Weywater to find the titular Vanishing Tomb, where they find the diary of a supposed squatter named Kimer, and encounter the necromancer Krolius, serving as the story’s chief antagonist. Overall, aside from some stylistic choices the author made, such as never referring to Rishrim as a vixen despite being vulpine, this is an admirable start to the series, which this reviewer definitely hopes isn’t stillborn.

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