The Poison Glen
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views (5/11)
“The Poison Glen” sets a perfect tone from the very beginning as we see a figure lurking in the shadows, invisible to almost everyone, as the royal family makes a long-range plan to defeat the barbarian Zadok that currently storm the castle. The plan is a long shot, filled with nobility and sacrifice, and everything hinges on baby Amariah, who we already know to be special because she’s able to see the mostly-invisible eavesdropper. Time passes, and we see Amariah as a young woman, once again facing death from the Zadok, who now rule the land with an iron fist. She soon learns of her true royal origin and discovers that her destiny is to defeat the enemy and reclaim the throne, but victory depends on her wielding a power that she might not have and an ancient talisman that is now missing.
Amariah is a feisty spirit, and her journey from naïve farm girl to warrior queen is an interesting and believable ride, made more intriguing by the appearance of The Hunter, an immortal aelven believed to have betrayed mankind during a time of need. It was The Hunter who spied on Amariah’s parents while they set their plan in motion, and he’s still dismayed that she’s able to detect him within shadows when nobody else can. While she can peer through his magic, she’s unable to see into his heart and can’t decide if he allies himself with her to simply overcome the forces of evil or if he has his own plans for her and the talisman of power.
I expected plenty of action from “The Poison Glen,” and the author delivered in a big way, but I wasn’t expecting such detail and depth to the characters. I felt Amariah’s confusion and resentment to living a lie before her true past was revealed to her, and her transformation from stubborn girl to rebel leader is appropriately paced. The author wasn’t lazy, trying to convince us that such a drastic change could happen overnight. Instead, we see the trials and challenges that forge her into the woman she becomes. Likewise, The Hunter’s motives are as concealed to us as they are to Amariah, so it’s easy to wonder with her if it’s really wise to trust the aelven. I think Simmons handled this aspect of the story extremely well because it wouldn’t have as much impact if we knew for sure if The Hunter was friend or foe.
“The Poison Glen” will thrill readers that enjoy epic fantasies that take place within richly developed worlds. Interesting characters, a fast-paced plot, and a hint of mystery, makes this book a definite page-turner.