Keeper of the Jewel by Richard H. Stephens

How would you, as the reader, feel like if you favorite author put your name in his book, citing your deeds towards his career in the acknowledgements? That’s what happens in this book as Richard H. Stephens acknowledges 4 particular readers that are an incredible support to him, and it’s lovely. This has to happen more often, and with every writer.

From what we understand on the first pages and the titles of the chapters, – and all the mentions of them – , there will be a LOT of dragons, hahhahahahah. This is an Epic Fantasy book, and a massive adventure, so everyone that loves dragons, elves, fire, – and Skyrim -, hop on! There is even a chapter called “DragonBorn”.

A very cool detail that we noticed, is that the chapters are titled on a Victorian/Gothic font, which adds to the atmosphere! Awesome!

Given that this is the fourth book of the Soul’s Forge Universe, but the first in the Highcliff Guardian’s Series, it can be read as a stand-alone.

Starting with intrigue, family recollections and rivalry between Khae and her older brother, the books shows promises of being complex and with many enticing details. Why does the Queen want her brother dead, and what did he do to deserve it? Is he as malevolent as the thoughts of the Queen imply? Is she overreacting?

There is a clear confrontation of interests between Khae and her brother, because of Elven law and the different ways they think about the dragon race, and humans. This, creates an atmosphere of tension between the two, to the point that the death of the other is sought.

Sensing the dangers that her older brother Orlythe, presents to the community of Dragons, Khae Wys, The Queen is worried about the future of the beasts. That, and the fact that her castle and realm are being threatened by a strange malevolent force that she discovers in the most unpredictable way is enough to grip us to the book. What creature is this that has this warrior like Queen scared out of her wits?

Orlythe, the Duke, is set as the evil brother, and it fits. In allegiance with the human wizard Afara Maral, that is more powerful than the elves wizards, Orlythe stands against the ways of her younger sister, Khae, and the question is raised in us readers: “After all the reasons mentioned when it comes to Orlythe, is he wrong to have such a position?”

A malignant forces are threatening the Kingdom of Elves, trying to attack the Royal family and steal the magic of the dragons, but this force, this, presence is unheard of and its power is dreadful with proportions unknown.

The wild princess, spoiled princess is striking, because of the way she can get into the nerves of her parents, Khae and Hammas. She isn’t willing to listen and acts like a total brat.

Still a teen, and not understanding, or caring to understand, many of the consequences of her actions, or the power within her hands, she makes poor decisions that end up costing even the lives of those trying to protect her. It is, many times annoying to read her act, and you want to slap her in the face because of her foolishness and insolence, although she is the second in command in the entire Kingdom. Difficulties will force her to grow, and in the hands of warriors, she will have no other choice but to step up to her calling.

Afara Maral, the human wizard is of most interest indeed. A very mysterious character in all his ways, and a powerful wizard, feared, or shunned, by the entire Kingdom of Elves, the wizard is a central piece of this story, and it seems like he is in charge of Grim Keep by influencing all Orlythe’s actions. What is this dark wizard trying to achieve?

It’s captivating on how Richard H. Stephens keeps introducing character after character and making them interesting, building layer upon layer on them instead of telling everything. Aelfwynne, Xantha and her troops, become the most interesting when they reach the stage of the book, after grim happenings, because of their mystery and story. Their experience about the “Crystal Cavern”, and to Xantha, her battle fury and legendary status that contrasts her calm and alert demeanor, do make us curious of her every action, especially because she is respected by the Kingdom’s highest Wizard.

MANY surprises await us, as the most expected anticipated hero might not even be who we expect. Talking about unlikely heroes, and chosen ones, we have not only one but TWO complete “out of the frame” heroes and saviors that turn up to be some of the most… “forgettable” characters in all the book. It’s lovely, and funny.

Surprises don’t end in the characters, but the plot twists several times as the plans of the many involved parties, and guilds, including the darkest ones, develop under the main plots, slowly and secretively, pledging alliance to the crown, but moving on with their own plans in the midst of the darkness and chaos. Some want to kill the Queen, others, want to kill the Princess. Others want to have more presence while keeping independence, but all want power. It’s fascinating!

Keeper of the Jewel is a pleasant, intriguing, funny and unpredictable part of the Soul’s Forge Universe, Highcliff Guardian’s Epic Fantasy Series, and if you love dragons, goblins and elves and magic, this is a book you want to check out.

Favourite characters: Jyllana, Aelfwynne, Xantha.

Pros:

  • Great Narrative
  • Great Plot-twists developed from side-plots
  • Great family conflicts
  • Detailed and solid descriptions of the rules of the Elves and their society
  • Detailed descriptions of the views, characters, dragons and plot
  • Nice action scenes and emotional scenes
  • The author kept the attention to the detail when it came to the implications of the events and who knew what and why
  • The princess isn’t the center of the story at all times
  • The Queen isn’t perfect and she is many times challenged and things not always go her way, even as Queen
  • There is an impressive “human-like” feeling to the characters
  • Although long, the story is interesting from beginning to end

Cons:

· There was, at times, too much description and embellishment, but that’s to expect from a book this genre.

Cover Score: 8.9/10

Book Score: 8.4/10

Get your book at: Apple Books// Overdrive// Amazon

Listen to the quick Podcast Review

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