The God Decrees: Devan Chronicles Book 1 by Mark E. Cooper is classical epic fantasy set in a quasi-medieval world. Cooper writes well and tries a few twists on some standard fantasy elements. Lord Keverin’s best friend and most capable wizard gives his life to bring a strong wizard from a distant world into Keverin’s castle to help defend and defeat invaders. The twist is the champion turns out to be Julia, a dedicated gymnast practicing for the Olympic games. Julia does not want to be in Keverin’s world and certainly does not want to defeat the oncoming army by killing them with magic.
Add to the mix the normal me-Tarzan you-Jane nonsense, feuding and treacherous neighbors, an archbishop who accuses Julia of witchcraft and heresy and you have the first novel, The God Decrees. Somehow the mix just didn’t work for me and I abandoned the book about 3/4 through the first book in the 4-book series. It felt trite and not compelling enough to read; I couldn’t care about the characters.
I read Jyra because author Blake B. Rivers sent a request to join his advanced readers group; the email was friendly and short so I moved Jyra up and read it the other evening.
Rivers noted Jyra is his first ever novel. Unfortunately main character Jyra is dry and factual, who knowingly struggles with social clues, sarcasm, nuances in conversation and motives. I’m not sure why he chose such a challenging heroine because the story itself is actually quite good and would have been enjoyable with a more interesting character.
Jyra’s story is about parallel or nested worlds all under attack from Something. Jyra knows this Something is real because she has seen it. I would like to see Rivers explore the seeming contradiction between the dry, factual Jyra and her readiness to believe in and act upon what almost anyone else would believe a dream.
Overall the story is decent. Rivers has the germ of a good plot here and I hope he develops it, perhaps along with developing Jyra into a real person instead of a facsimile.