The Immortals: Part One Shadows and Starstone by Cheryl Mackey is such a great book that I was already planning on getting the second book before I finished listening to the first. I happily rate it at full stars! In fact, I got both Book II and Book III as soon as I finished the first book. The characters are the greatest strength of this book. But the new ideas within a very popular genre were refreshing, and the tempo of the action was awesome. Also, I listened to this as an audio book and the narrator was superb.
The concept of immortal beings is not new to the fantasy genre, and of course Good vs. Evil is an age-old plot. However, the idea of these characters being immortal without any say, without memories of their past lives (for indeed they can die and be reincarnated repeatedly), and at the whim of the gods is different. That these immortals have been forced into being warriors in a 15,000 year war is powerful. Their abilities are interesting, and while not unique, their wielding of the powers is very individual.
The characters are the greatest strength of this book. First, the relationship between the brothers gives them a real connection that most readers can connect to. The relationship between this whole group, struggling to stay alive, while protecting each other is tight just as we all want our team to be. Second, they completely understand and rely on each other’s strengths, but a good portion of the book also focuses on their weaknesses and uncertainties, which gives their characters honesty and authenticity.
The book is short, I was able to listen to the whole thing in four sessions. Audio books can be difficult to pick up right where you let off, but this book has so many details and such strong action that it is impossible not to just drop right back into the story. The descriptions are detailed but not overwhelming. It is easy to picture the burning staff, or the swirling winds, and the concern in the Ivo’s eyes.The writing is so clean and clear that you are immersed in the scene and unaware of reading/listening – characterization of an amazing story.
I will recommend this series to middle school students I work with. I would be comfortable with this book in any school library, as there are no sexual scenes, foul language, or graphic violence. There are battle scenes, but they are not gory despite the death and destruction. More important to the story are the details of the weariness of these reluctant warriors, and the villagers so terrified that they abandon their homes despite heroes there to protect them.
Find yourself a copy of The Immortals, either in print or audio format.