Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review: Defenders of the Scroll by Shiraz

Title: Defenders of the Scroll

Author: Shiraz

Pages: 248

Where I Got It: authors


A teenage boy.

A dark wizard.

A mystic scroll.

And the fate of a world hangs in the balance...

When Alex "the Axeman" Logan is pulled from his world to help a young princess, named Dara, save her kingdom from the Shadow Lord, he thinks there has been a mistake. He's a teen guitar player close to failing 11th grade, not some defender of the realm. All he has are some school books, his wits, and his love of fantasy movies.

Overnight his life is history. Alex must confront the Shadow Lord and his minions when he is thrust into a land that has changed from a magical paradise to a barren, hopeless, helpless realm invaded by a dark army. But Alex is not alone. He has the help of Dara, a magic scroll, and a band of unlikely companions drawn from his own history books: a hardened Roman Legionnaire, a swift Japanese Samurai, a fearless African Warrior, a fiery Amazon Archer, and a spirited Shaolin Monk.

Can Alex become more than he believes and lead his small band of Defenders to the Hall of Shadows, the birthplace of the Shadow Lord? The fate of the realm and everyone in it rests on him.

Have you ever looked at the cover of a book and thought, "Good lord, what were they thinking?" and then upon further expection realized it was, in fact, the perfect cover for the type of story that it contains? Because Defender's of the Scroll is exactly as the cover protrays: cheesy, fun and fantastical.

Before I really delve into this review, however, I'd like to point out this is a fantasy novel and, like most fantasy (high or otherwise) it does fall under the unpronouncable name stereotype that often befalls the genre. The story begins with Mornak (MOAR-nak) looming over the city of Aspiria (like the bottled water). Mornak is the world's most powerful wizard, living as king in some kind of otherwordly land that is strangely similar to our own. His daughters name is Dara (like the Explora). There are a lot of characters, therefore a lot of names to remember (which may very well be Defenders greatest fault). This is a warning to anyone who may not be up for a lesson in memory recall.

So, Mornak is brooding (in typical king-wizard fashion: in a tower) down at his city, the morning of some kind of special celebration. Right away there's a lot of info-dumping--one might say a bit too much for the first three pages--but as a seasoned fantasy reader, I like to think I'm well-equipped for excessive back story. Anyway, Mornak's daughter comes running up and points out the clear blue sky--but for one little black cloud, right over the Shadow Wood.

Dara is suddenly burdened with a scroll, which she must protect from the Evil Bad Guy Hall. The scroll has the magic of Mornak, and now she must summon the leader of the Axeman to aid her in protecting the scroll. In a very slap-stick moment, she inadvertibly calls upon Alex, teenager musician and singer to his garage band Axeman on Earth.

Defenders is basically (in my opinion) an ode to teenage boys and great children's fantasy. It takes the stereotypes of the genre (and all said genre's branches), and makes it something every video-game obsessed fantasy fan could enjoy. The characters were fun little people that all have their own cute, exxagerrated personalities that are kind of reminescent of those old adventure movies you'd watch as a kid. I was kind of giggling the whole time while reading it at the stupidest jokes, just because the atmosphere the novel has brings you back to a time when you actually thought that kind of humor was funny.

A little quelm I found myself having was the language. While Alex, being a modern-day boy, uses cheeseball slang quite nicely, the warriors and kings and those who live in this other demension (which is a bit Tolkien-esque) talk...the same way. Informal, mannerisms that don't seem to fit in with their was just king of meh. Hard to get into the other world when they talk like your uncle or something.

But, seriously, putting my reviewer critics aside, this is the most fun I've ever had reading a book. I would definetly suggest it for anyone looking for a cute action/adventure.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Also: Defenders reminds me of another series in which a young teenage boy enters another realm for a battle against good versus evil. Pendragon, anyone?


brizmus said...

Man, this book really just sounds amazing! I can't wait to read it! It's so funny, too, because that cover is atrocious.
Your review makes it sound kind of like the Goonies. Man, i LOVED that movie!
I actually have Pendragon coming up soon in my tbr pile.

Alexia561 said...

Enjoyed your review! I'm reading this one now and have to agree that it's a fun read! Love Alex and how he keeps comparing what's happening to him to movies & video games and such. And I think Shiraz had fun with the names, as every now and then he'd insert a "George" just to mix things up a bit. *L*

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