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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Outcast by C. L. Talmadge

Outcast: Book Four of Green Stone Healing Series by C. L. Talmadge
Publisher: HealingStone Books
Genre: Fantasy
Length: Full (257 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Beware of treachery from false allies.

Exiled from the luxury of her father’s estates to avert potential civil war, Helen Andros takes shelter in mountainous Southern Alta Province with the Altairs, the family of her true love. Helen develops a close bond with her beloved’s mother, Marlin, and cares for his father, Jason during the man’s final days. After Jason's funeral, Maguari the Mist-Weaver warns that the life of Helen’s father also could be cut short if he does not take steps to avert disaster.

Concerns about betrayal prompt another move for Helen to a remote hunting lodge. There she finds and takes in the homeless children of the Sin-Eater and makes friends with their father.

Together, Helen and the Sin-Eater learn from Maguari life-altering advanced skills in energy-manipulation. The otherworldly alien mentor also teaches Helen how to use the green stone and chain together for more rapid and powerful healing and self-protection. Although Helen does not yet know it, her newfound abilities could change the balance of power in Azgard.

Helen's father faces ever more strident political opposition while a false ally advances a plot to slay him as the first step in usurping the Kingship. The second in command of the state-supported Temple of Kronos, learns about the Andros family's hidden royal ancestry, and hatches a scheme to abduct Helen after paying for information about her true hiding place.

As Book Four concludes, the plot against Lord James reaches its tragic climax. At the same time, unknown assailants arrive at the lodge. Helen and the Sin-Eater use their newly acquired spiritual powers to fend them off and flee with the children, uncertain if help from Orlando will reach them in time.

Her hiding place no longer secret, Helen faces the dangerous prospect of returning to live among those who would slay her and others who will betray her. Now, however, she can and will defend herself in ways her enemies find unimaginable and unbelievable.

OUTCAST, like the eye of a storm, grants Helen Andros a temporary respite from the savagery of those who would use her to gain power. Yet, she is ever mindful it is near and will find her in time.

While the unrest and cruelties are on the periphery of her isolated hill country hideaway, Helen has time to recognize her spirit gifts and become more amenable to Maguari’s instructions. A gentler side of her character emerges as Deborah, Jeriko, and Obediah become part of her life. To them she gives love without reservation, while others who love her give her protect from a distance but with vigilantes.

Lord James does not heed Judith’s warning when she says, “If you don’t use your office you’ll leave the nation to civil war”. He is unable to bend his definition of honor and loyalty. His failure to act lets the rebellious storm build while Malachi, Seti, and Enoch clandestinely pursue their individual agendas to whip the political storm into a fury.

As the storm begins to rage out of control, it hits Helen full force. She is once again a prime target. She flees her sanctuary taking Deborah, Jeriko, and Major with her—running to those who have kept her safe before.

Her newfound spirit-strength, her better understanding of self-judgment, and self-trust give the reader a ray of hope. Her powerful spirit-strength, her resourcefulness, and her still indomitable but more mature personality give one the hope that she will not become the helpless victim she has been in the past.

C. L. Talmadge continues to weave this intriguing tapestry of a tale that shows many facets of human nature. The design, woven with dark and light, vivid and subdued tones with varying shades of color mingled in, captivates the imagination, heart, and mind of the reader.

I am eager for Book Five of this series. I expect the more mature and wiser Helen to bring a new dimension to the saga that will influence the outcome of the nation of Azgard and avenge some past wrongs.

This fantasy is an enthralling, vicarious adventure that lingers in the mind and touches deep emotions.