Genre: Epic Fantasy/Adventure/Young Adult
“A ruler is betrayed and his young daughter is forced to flee or die.
Teenage Zastra is a big disappointment to her father, Leodra, ruler of Golmeira, because she hasn't got what it takes to become a mindweaver, one of the highly valued few who can manipulate the thoughts of others. Things get much worse for Zastra when she is roused from her bed to find that Leodra has been betrayed and her beloved Golmer Castle overrun with enemy soldiers. She escapes via the castle's ancient underground tunnels, only to be faced with a terrible choice. Hunted across the turbulent landscape of Golmeira, Zastra must rely on her wits and the help of strangers as she tries to outrun the powerful forces set upon her trail.”
From Marianne Ratcliffe’s author page: “I am a PhD-qualified biomedical scientist living and working in Cheshire and have authored several peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. In my spare time, I enjoy creative writing. I have had short stories published in Debut and Scribble magazines and was a runner up in the 2010 Guildford Literary Festival Short Story competition. In 2014, I published my first novel, Realm of Mindweavers, a fantasy/adventure story suitable for young adults and grown-ups. Murthen Island followed in 2015, and I have recently released the third instalment, Return to Golmeira.
My inspiration for these books was a desire to write a different kind of fantasy series. I wanted to create a world where women were seen as equal to men and where same sex couples were as commonplace and accepted as opposite sex couples. Also, I wanted to create a heroine who has no special powers. Although there is a kind of magic in my world, called mindweaving, my protagonist, Zastra, doesn't have mindweaving abilities, much to her dismay. And so, when an incident occurs that turns her world upside down, she has to rely on guts, intelligence and even a bit of luck to come get herself out of trouble. There's no magical power to come to her rescue.”
Realm of Mindweavers starts off with a nice easy pace as the characters become fully realized and the fantasy world is introduced, which is similar to earth. Zastra is an intelligent, respectful, and ambitious child. She is also a daredevil when it comes to sneaking around the castle into places she doesn’t belong. She easily befriends new-comers and bravely stands up to bullies. Zastra also loves her twin infant siblings. On her thirteenth birthday she is tested by the castle Mindweaver who looks inside her mind to see if she has the mindweaver ability. Her father is disappointed when she fails the test. This is also an ability he doesn’t possess, and he knows he is viewed as a weak king for not being a mindweaver.
The plot speeds up when the castle is overthrown early one morning and Zastra’s world is turned upside down. Her father charges her with the twins’ safety and well-being then leads her to a concealed ancient tunnel to escape the castle. Zastra has to live by her wits to dodge enemy soldiers at every turn. Zastra is faced with hard choices as the plot twists. Making unexpected friends along the way who help her elude those who seek her and her siblings’ demise. This journey is an enchanting roller-coaster ride of emotions and tension that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
There is a lot of captivating action in Realm of Mindweavers. As I was reading a climactic scene near the end, I became concerned this book would end with a cliffhanger. Rest assured that this book comes to a satisfying ending. However there is more story to be told, and I can’t wait to read more of Zastra’s journey.
Realm of Mindweavers is the first book in the Tales of Golmeira series. Ms. Ratcliffe lives in the U.K. and uses British spelling. Doh!
I came across a small number of proofing misses such as missing or extra words, and misspelled words. As well as the right words in the wrong position. “To go now back would put…” and “When do you think will they be here?”
Rating: **** Four Stars
Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words