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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fallout by C. L. Talmadge

Fallout - Book Two of Green Stone of Healing Series by C. L. Talmadge
Publisher: Healing Stone Books
Genre: Fantasy
Length: Full (308 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Review by Camellia

She can keep her legs shut, but not her lips.

She is Lieutenant Helen Andros, outspoken heroine of Fallout, Book Two of the Green Stone of Healing(tm) epic fantasy series.

In Fallout, first-generation Helen clashes with Lord James Mordecai, her newfound parent, one of Azgard’s highest-ranking Toltec lords and its top military officer. Anger and shame keep Helen from acknowledging him as her father. Restrained by his fears, Lord James cannot tell Helen he loves her.

Helen incurs the painful ire of the powerful Temple of Kronos and suffers a military discipline for an unthinking comment. While recovering, she is visited by Maguari, a member of an otherworldly race called the Mist-Weavers, who appear and dissolve at will. He reveals a past life to Helen and urges her not to allow her anger to divide her from the same father in this life.

Just before Lord James’ trial for his relationship with Helen’s Turanian mother, the Temple unexpectedly orders Helen to attend the proceeding. Watching her parent plead for her, Helen has a change of heart and summons the courage to express it.

Helen Andros and her new-found father Lord James Mordecai, Lord Protector of the realm of Azgard and the Duke of Alta Province do not understand each other so they are at odds often, yet each of them long to find a connect. Helen is a half-breed. She is like a lightning rod that attracts the wrath of her father’s enemies, particularly that of Malachi, Supreme Lord of the Temple.

Helen suffers abuse from her father. She does not know the rules of society. When he denies her the right to practice medicine, profession and what she feels called to do, her sense of self-worth plummets.

Judith Altair, counselor that communes with Maguari the Mist-Weaver and a dear friend of Helen’s mother Miriam before she died, visits with Lord James. She tells him that Helen “is you in a maiden’s body. She has your courage, spirit, tenacity, sense of honor, devotion to duty, and dedication to service”.

Lord James finally sees Helen more clearly. She is ”unsophisticated, physically graceful, and socially awkward, forthright in intelligence and opinion, yet, tentative in emotional claims”. He relents and allows her a limited medical practice. However, when she says something derogatory about the office of Lord Protector, he put the honor of his office above love for his daughter and takes horrifying action.

Helen’s self-esteem diminishes even more as he withholds his love until she submits to him completely. Her hard-won independence and autonomy are precious to her.

The multitude of characters swirling around them augments problems while the convoluted customs and beliefs allow unspeakable cruelty to be the usual rather than a rarity.

These characters function in the elaborate social structure of the fantasy world of Azgard that allows enormous power to a few. Among the few, greed for MORE POWER is overwhelming. Tension escalates with brother against brother vying for the kingship of Azgard and religious power vying for dominance over secular power with Helen and Lord James caught in the crossfire.

FALLOUT, full of subplots, shows value systems, enduring love, unrequited love, and unswerving loyalties. Even though the power struggles and the cruelties cloud the story with blood at times, the reader sees the indomitable spirits of the primary characters that endure all things to protect their own and to stay honorable.

The Third Book THE SCORPIONS STRIKE is now available. I have it nearby but it is firmly closed until I finish this review. I’m eager to start on it because there is still so much I want to know about Helen and the people nearest and dearest to her.

The Green Stone of Healing series is an especially good fantasy with lots of food for thought and an emotional roller coaster ride that thrills and YES scares at times. C. L. Talmadge is a name to watch for when looking for excellence in weaving a tale of fantasy.