the Crimson Sword

Book One of the Legend of Asahiel

Reviews

Barnes & Noble Spotlight Feature May 2005

Eldon Thompson’s debut novel, The Crimson Sword, is the first volume in an epic fantasy thriller comparable to recent bestselling series like Jennifer Fallon’s Hythrun Chronicles, Mitchell Graham’s Fifth Ring trilogy, and Terry Brooks’s Shannara sequence. Brimming with magic, monsters, and nonstop adventure, this Tolkienesque story pits a reluctant hero—a young woodsman named Jarom—against a demonic queen and her armies of nightmarish dragonspawn. With the fate of millions of innocent lives in the balance, all Jarom has to do is find a mythical sword used by godly avatars in the creation of the world, elude a vengeful wizard who happens to be his banished brother, and somehow defeat a seemingly endless swarm of monstrosities from the Abyss.

After saving a terrified woman from a band of pursuing soldiers, Jarom finds his world is turned upside down by her story. The woman turns out to be the Queen of Alson, and after sharing her horrific tale about the king’s assassination and a wizard’s siege of the kingdom’s capital, she informs Jarom that she is in fact his mother and that he is the secret heir to the throne! As the wizard wreaks havoc—and ghastly creatures begin appearing throughout the countryside—Jarom is sent on an almost hopeless quest to find a sword of legend.

While this novel is clearly not on the level of Tolkien’s archetypal classic, Thompson shows great promise in this page-turning debut, which features generous amounts of magic, mythology, and mayhem. Here’s one fantasy fan who’s very curious to see where Thompson goes with the second installment of his Legend of Asahiel trilogy.

— Paul Goat Allen

© 2005 Barnes&Noble.com llc. All rights reserved.

BookLoons Reviews 2005

There’s the death of the king of Alson, a young prince raised in a distant village and unaware of his heritage, a lost sword of power, an evil, invading sorceror, a demon Queen with her minions, and mysterious powers manipulating events in the background. Sound familiar? It is and it isn’t. Though the basic plot here is pretty standard fare, there are interesting variations, plenty of bloodthirsty action (the sorceror’s treatment of his already abused mom put me off my dinner), and some interesting characters—I especially enjoyed the childlike Kylac Kronus, raised in an Assassin’s Guild and a whiz with weaponry, and found the notion of cannibalistic elves an entertaining deviation from the usual script.

Essentially, Jarom (the young prince) and his childhood friend Allion set off on quest for the Crimson Sword of Asahiel, needed to fight the sorceror. They’re joined by Kylac en route. While they’re wandering near and far, the odds against them lengthen when demon Queen Spithaera is accidentally awakened by children exploring a cave system. Her dragonspawn join in the slaughter that had already started and an unholy alliance is formed. There are captures and escapes, and the obligatory love interest for Jarom—a lovely apprentice healer named Marisha with a secret of her own. Armies are engaged, and the friends scatter pursuing individual, equally perilous goals. It all sorts out by the end, but our heroes should not rest on their laurels as the author hints at what they’ll have to deal in the sequel.

— Hilary Williamson, BookLoons.com

© 2005 BookLoons

Chapters Staff Pick May 2005

A newcomer to the fantasy scene, Eldon Thompson, and his book The Crimson Sword, is a fresh (young) and welcome addition to the field who very well could be (and should be for that matter) a name and face you will be seeing often in the future.

The Crimson Sword begins The Legend of Asahiel like so many other epic fantasies: a young man, a sleepy village and a hidden past. When young Jarom is thrust suddenly forward into the position of first heir to the throne of a besieged kingdom, he sets out with childhood friend, Allion, to find one of the mythical Crimson Swords; a role fate seems to indicate is his destiny.

Or is it?

What if Frodo were not the one meant to carry the ring to Mount Doom? What if Luke Skywalker, like his father, turned out not to be the chosen one? That is the question Thompson sets out to answer with his series of books.

In what is essentially a coming of age story, like so many others we have seen clogging the fantasy genre, Thompson’s unique narrative and rich description set him apart from other first time authors. Take a large helping of Terry Brooks (who has acted as somewhat of a mentor to Thompson), add a heaping teaspoon of Tad Williams and a pinch of Raymond Feist, and you’re looking at Eldon Thompson.

Even the most successful and prolific of authors must start in humble beginnings; and for all our sakes—yours, mine, Eldon’s—I hope that Thompson’s career turns out to be just that: successful and prolific. Aidan Approved!

— Aidan Moher, Chapters Bookstore

Library Journal May 2005

The assassination of the king of Alson throws the succession into chaos; the city of Krynwall has fallen to its enemies, and the desperate queen flees her home in search of safety and of the son she has not seen since his birth 19 years ago. Now a young guardian named Jarom, he wants nothing to do with politics. Nevertheless, Jarom finds himself on a journey across the world in search of the mythical Crimson Sword. Thompson’s first novel creates a richly detailed world of shadow assassins, demon queens, and magical swords. Jarom is a sympathetic and engaging hero who fights for his principles and for his duty. In the tradition of high fantasy, this book belongs in most fantasy collections.

Publishers Weekly May 2005

Marred by wooden prose and lethargic pacing, Thompson’s earnest fantasy debut, the first of a trilogy, tries hard to follow in Tolkien’s and Terry Brooks’s footsteps (Brooks provides a blurb), but only half succeeds. The story opens with a promising air of mystery with the murder of King Sorl, the despotic ruler of Alson, one of the several kingdoms of Pentania. The assassin, known only as the Shadow, was hired by Soric, Sorl’s disinherited older son, now an evil wizard intent on claiming his birthright. The widowed Queen Ellebe seeks out her younger son, Torin, who’s been living for 19 years as Jarom, a mere mushroom farmer’s son, unaware of his royal heritage. Once he recovers from the shock of learning he’s really a prince, Jarom/Torin resolves to overthrow Soric, an effort that will involve him in a quest for a legendary sword. This kindhearted book employs all the familiar fantasy tropes—elven folk, dragons, demons, a fair lady—but unfortunately Prince Torin’s vanilla personality is about as exciting as a hobbit without a ring. The more interesting Shadow vanishes too quickly and appears later only rarely. Hopefully, the next installment will have more bite.

© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

SciFiChick September 2007

The Crimson Sword is the debut novel by Eldon Thompson. When the king is assassinated and the city conquered by an unknown army commanded by a wizard, all hope seems to fall on a young man named Jarom. With the help of his friend, Jarom goes in search of the legendary Crimson Sword, believing the magical sword will help in his quest to usurp the evil wizard. But there are many other forces at work, with their own plans for Jarom and the sword.

In typical high fantasy tradition, The Crimson Sword contains dragons, wizards, demons, and other unique creatures. But the strength of this novel lies in the twists and surprises in the story. And with plenty of action and violence, we’re never sure who may live and who will die. The antagonists are ruthless killers, but the good guys aren’t without their own arsenal of skilled combatants.

There were a few unique characters that I really enjoyed. But this novel is definitely driven by the action and exciting storyline. This was an impressive debut from a young author. I’ll definitely be seeking out the sequels: The Obsidian Key and The Divine Talisman, which will supposedly be released next year.

Thanks to A Dribble of Ink for the great recommendation.

— Angela Schuch, SciFiChick.com

SFRevu June 2005

The Crimson Sword is book one of the Legend of Asahiel trilogy. Krynwall falls to an unknown wizard and his dark forces. Queen Ellebe escapes to seek help. And we begin reading thinking this is the usual quest story—find the sword, kill the wizard, and all will be right with the world again. But is anything ever that simple?

Jarom has grown up in the simple forest village of Diln. He’s the village Fason or peacekeeper and the only son of the head of the village Elders. But after Jarom and his best friend, Allion, save Queen Ellebe from her pursuers, they are locked out of the Elder’s deliberations. When Jarom is finally allowed into the chamber it is to have his world torn apart and turned upside down. He learns that he is Torin, son of Ellebe and King Sorl and the man he has thought of as his father for all these years was only his caretaker and teacher. What’s more, he is expected to go to a neighboring kingdom and raise an army to save the kingdom before the wizard can consolidate his power.

Jarom feels he has no choice but to agree to this scheme and he and Allion set off. But there is more to being a king than being birthed by the Queen. While Jarom has been trained all his life to be a leader and to settle disputes, he feels adrift as the underpinnings of his world are shifted and his place in it changed. He refuses his new name and reluctantly realizes that he must do what he can for the people. But without his identity as Jarom, he struggles to gain solid footing in this new reality he finds himself in.

While the quest is outwardly a search for the Crimson Sword of Asahiel, the true quest is Jarom’s search to find himself and his place in the world. Can he be a leader of men? Can he become a King? Does he want to be King?

Along the journey, Jarom meets with others who help, hinder, confuse, advise, challenge, love, and skew his worldview. There’s a lot going on in this book: high adventure, love, friendship, meddling wise men, and monstrous demons. There’s something for everyone as Jarom strives to save his village, the kingdom, and discover himself. The big surprise for me is that while this is book one of a trilogy, it can and does stand alone.

What’s even more surprising is that this is a first novel. Eldon Thompson has written a different quest story that has enough twists and turns to entertain even the most jaded fantasy reader. There are some rough spots as Jarom whines about his fate and acts as if the world owes him something for being different than what he believed it to be. Seeing the control this author has over the material indicates that as his skills grow with the next book, the story should gain even more depth and twistedness.

Recommended: Give it a try, you’ll be glad you did.

— Gayle Surrette, SFRevu.com

© 2005 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu