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The Prophecy of Zephyrus by G. A. Hesse

The Prophecy of Zephyrus

by G. A. Hesse

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Lots of action. It kept me me wanting to know what happens next. It is different than most of the books of this genre. I loved how the main character in the end realizes his disability was more in his head after he gains confidence from the charaters he meets and the ones he has to fight. The love story of the princess stays more in the background and focuses more on the boy and how he helps the people in the kingdom he meets. ( )
  ldaena | May 11, 2011 |
I enjoyed the colorful fantasy world G.A. Hesse creates in The Prophecy of Zephyrus so much that I read it twice. I found it a beautifully written, high-action story with many plot twists that kept me guessing. Answers to mysteries unfold naturally, creating a tight, well-crafted plot. One senses the author knows exactly what she’s doing every step of the way in the epic journey undertaken by the male protagonist, Obie Griffin. It’s a journey from boyhood to manhood, from insecure teenager to confident and competent warrior. Obie is swept into a physical battle between the forces of good and evil, as well as an inner battle with his own demons.

The author’s keen ear for the language enables her to create flowing sentences that easily draw the reader in. The eloquent simplicity of style reminds me of the writings of authors like Updike and Hemingway. Hesse’s prose is often poetic, especially in visual scenes such as Obie’s recurring nightmare, and the night he runs through an enchanted forest alongside the lion-man, and when, in a pensive mood, he observes snow falling on forest trees. Another treat is the entire scene where the black sorcerer King Torolf tries to win the love of the female protagonist, Gabrielle, who is a noblewoman, and Guardian of the Light Crystal. The entire scene of several pages is written in perfect iambic form---no small feat. Since Gabrielle is bewitched at the time, the author’s style here pulls the reader from everyday reality into Gabrielle’s mental realm of bewitchment. The scene is beautiful and poetic, yet the reader senses it is not quite real. It is subtle enough that many readers may be unaware of the literary craft behind the words; they are only aware of the falseness of Torolf’s conjured garden. To pull this off is an achievement for any writer. Although we know Torolf’s reason for wooing her is to acquire the Light Crystal with all its power, we view a side to him that surprises us. For although this evil black sorcerer is eaten up by hatred and a desire for revenge (the source of it is revealed earlier in the book by the character Andras), when he lays eyes on the now grown up Gabrielle, her beauty kindles in him feelings he has all but forgotten, and he falls prey to love---perverse though that love may be.

The book is filled with lively, credible characters, each having a unique voice. Sometimes the differences in voice are subtle and sometimes marked. In the beginning, for example, the differences between Obie and Josh’s voices, two modern-day teenagers, is not nearly as great as the contrast of voice between Obie and the aristocratic characters he encounters in the ancient Gaelic Kingdom of Windermere. While the author most likely did not wish to subject readers to a tiring task of unraveling the Gaelic tongue, one would expect the aristocrats to at least speak a more formal English than 21st century teenagers engage in. However, not all characters are high-born, as we note in the speech of the rough and ready soldiers of the queen, the bar maid at the Jolly Horse Inn, enemy soldiers (whose language differs according to their breed), and others. Tau, the lion-man, speaks rather formally because he has only acquired the ability to speak English (the common language) recently. ( )
1 vote jeanmean | Jul 5, 2010 |
‘The Prophecy of Zephyrus’ by G. A. Hesse
420 pages

A new fantasy hero has been born, a hero you can’t help but like and root for from the moment you meet him.

Only 17 and marked by a limp which is his legacy from the car accident which killed his mother Obie (Oberon Griffin) has had to learn to be a survivor. Obie is not considered cool by his peers who love to tease him about the limp which he himself feels is his punishment for surviving the accident. However, he is grateful for his friendship with Josh and the mentorship of Will Grey Eagle, a Native American herbalist.

Every hero needs a secret weapon and I must say I was very surprised to discover that Obie’s is his ‘Raptor’ slingshot. I love that fact that the author has taken something so simple and made it into a great weapon - a weapon which our hero is able to use not only while living in his own time but also after he travels on a comet’s tail to the ancient Kingdom of Windermere. It reminds me of David using his slingshot to slay Goliath.

When Obie finds a stone in a cave in Ghostrise Valley with his name on it he takes it home. From that moment on he starts having bad dreams. When he tells Will Grey Eagle about these dreams Will suggests that if he were to spend a night in the valley everything will become clear to him.

It is during this night that Obie, his friend Josh and Josh’s faithful dog Hudson spend in Ghostrise Valley that Obie is whisked away on a comet’s tail to the ancient Kingdom of Windermere and his wonderful adventure truly begins. Here he finds two new companions whom you will love – lion-man Tau and the Mole.

This book is a good example of how good must overcome evil, how we must use the strengths within us, how we must never give up and how we must all battle to save the earth and all its bounties.

I recommend this book to teenagers and adults alike. Like me you will be anxiously awaiting the second book in this series.

Thank you Ms. Hesse for a great read. ( )
  meg-r | Jul 4, 2010 |
I'm torn on whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. On the 4 star side, I found the book to be a pretty great page turner, and I was wrapped up in discovering more about the world the author had created. For those reasons, I really enjoyed the book.

However, there were a few things about the writing the pulled me out of the story enough to prevent me from rating it higher. There are some editing mistakes in the edition I read -- simple punctuation errors that forced me to read through the sentence a little slower to make sure I was parsing it correctly. Some of the dialog was also stilted and unnatural. The ending, while quite satisfying, seemed to try too hard to tie everything up in a nice little bow. The ending could have still been satisfying if a few questions were left unanswered.

The story and plot is fairly classic High Fantasy, taking place in a world like Tolkien's Middle Earth - same earth as our own, but a time period lost and forgotten when talking animals, elves, dragons and magicians roamed the earth. I had to suspend disbelief to make sense of how that worked (some sort of medieval Europe in Wyoming?), but I tried my best. I also wondered if Tolkien and CS Lewis and other great High Fantasy greats have ruined my ability to enjoy newer High Fantasy novels since so much seems borrowed from them.

The main character is a teen boy from modern times with some sort of mysterious past. His mother died when he was very young and he has a mysterious limp. He feels forgotten by his father. He is swept up in a mystery in a strange valley near his house and then is literally swept away into this other magical land. While there, he discovers he is the hero that has been foretold, and he ends up on a quest to stop an evil king from destroying the world. Flying horses, talking animals and local people help him on his way, while the evil king and his minions try to stop him.

All in all, an enjoyable book and certainly worth the time it took to read it, though not an outstanding piece of literature. ( )
  stacyinthecity | Jun 30, 2010 |
Disclosure: I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program. Some people think this may bias a reviewer so I am making sure to put this information up front. I don't think it biases my reviews, but I'll let others be the judge of that.

I think that there are a substantial number of young girls who spin themselves imaginary fairy kingdoms they can populate with winged horses that fly to the moon, castles of brave knights, queens, and forests with elves. Since these little girls have probably read The Wind in the Willows and The Chronicles of Narnia, they probably also populate their fairy lands with talking animals. Because knights and elves need enemies to bravely face they put in some evil sorcerers, fire breathing dragons, and scary insect people. At the center of this fairy world is, of course, the beautiful princess, perhaps a stand-in for the little girl herself. Once in a while, a little girl like this grows up and writes a book using her fairy kingdom as the setting. G.A. Hesse appears to have been one of these little girls who grew up and decided to become a writer, and The Prophecy of Zephyrus is the result.

Unfortunately, fantasies spun in the daydreams of young girls don't seem to result in much more than a mediocre story. The primary problem that The Prophecy of Zephyrus has as a book is that this being a world spun in a daydream, there can't really be very many bad things that happen to the characters in the story. The villain in the book goes to great lengths to abduct the beautiful ingenue, but since this is a daydream-based fairy tale, she is never threatened with any harm as a result. In effect, the villain simply wants to get our heroine to his tower so he can try to woo her because he is awed by her beauty, which seems like a fantasy a twelve-year old girl might spin. The heroes who set out to rescue her from being courted don't kill their enemies (although their enemies are spider-men and ant-men who humanity is more or less at war with, and who would happily eat them), but knock them out and tie them up. Granted, the villain's spider-men ambush a group of soldiers and kill them all (and apparently eat them), but the soldiers are a faceless group that are eliminated off-stage, so the impact is pretty minor. On the other hand, the worst a supposedly scary fire-breathing dragon can do is shorten a small animal's tail.

The other central problem with the book is that it is just not that well-written. The first of these problems is that much of the writing itself is stilted, especially the dialogue. Much of the dialogue is incredibly stiff, although the style of dialogue lurches between stiff formality to very weak attempts to make the speech more colloquial (by having characters say "ya" instead of "you" a lot). One speech oddity that crops up over and over is characters addressing the person they are speaking with by name. In general, when two people are having a conversation at which no other person is present, they don't say things like this bit of text found on page 4 after a half page of dialogue: "What I want to know is, who wrote that on the rock, and why? Tell me what to do, Will. What's going on? How can I get rid of these bad dreams?" This sort of gratuitous insertion of character names into conversation is a fairly common pattern in the book, and it just grates on the reader's nerves. Another fairly annoying recurring writing foible is the tendency to italicize the names of places or things (although not always consistently). Names of places, translations of names, and so on get this treatment, although not every time, and there appears to be no rhyme or reason to what gets italicized and what doesn't, and when.

The second writing problem is a lack of attention to detail. The book itself is centered around the prophecy of the title. But the book never explains who Zephyrus was, or why anyone pays attention to his prophecy. Oddly, the writer seems to go out of her way to try to keep the exact nature of the prophecy a secret in the early part of the book, revealing it in full on page 91. But the text of the prophecy is found just before the table of contents, making the secrecy kind of moot, since any reader who looked at the beginning pages in the book will have already seen the prophecy. Making the entire prophecy element kind of silly is the fact that the prophecy doesn't actually contribute anything to the story. Characters don't make decisions based on the prophecy, no one consults it to guide their actions. They just see the male lead show up, decide he's the guy who is going to save everyone, and sit back to let it happen. The prophecy is sort of Nostradamus-like in that no one can use it to predict what is going to happen, as the meaning of the text only becomes clear after the predicted events have already happened. The hero has a horse that is telepathic, although why some animals can talk telepathically, some can talk normally, and some can do both is never explained. The horse pops into and out of the story-line, and eventually just drops out of the story. Early in the story we are introduced to malevolent trolls, and slightly more ambiguously evil goblins, but the villain doesn't recruit them as his soldiers for wholly unexplained reasons, instead making insects and lions into men. Once the spider-men, ant-men, and lion-men show up, the trolls and goblins vanish, never to be seen again. Over and over again, elements are introduced to the story, hang around for a bit, and are then dropped.

And this doesn't even begin to deal with the oddities of plot and characters featured in the book. The main character is Oberon Griffin, a character presumably from our modern day world who is whisked away to the fairy land of Windermere. Once there, he is tagged as the central figure in an all-important prophecy, and sets about his adventures. In keeping with the stiff dialogue, the various characters around him patiently spend copious amounts of text dumping information upon Oberon (or Obie, as he prefers to be called), making for some fairly tedious background scenes. This being a fairy tale story, everyone Obie meets immediately accepts his explanation of being transported by magic to the kingdom, and the Queen of Windermere takes a shine to him, giving him clothes, training and a horse. One thing Obie brings with him from the modern world is his "Raptor", a special and powerful slingshot, which the locals are improbably impressed with (as it is less effective as a weapon than, say, a bow, a weapon they seem to have plenty of, due to its non-lethal nature). Obie is more or less a wish-fulfillment character - once in Windermere he discovers that he can communicate via telepathy, discovers that he has elvish blood in his veins giving him superior abilities, loses the limp that has plagued him for his whole life, and falls in love with the princess.

The main problem facing Windermere is the "celestial dimming", meaning that the stars, the moon, and the sun are slowly fading. This is caused, apparently, by a cabal of six evil sorcerers, including the antagonist of this book, the evil Torolf. This seems to be a pretty stupid plan for the evildoers, since everyone pretty much accepts that once the various celestial lights go out, all life on Earth will end, which would seem to make the villainous plans amount to little more than an elaborate form of suicide. Instead of setting out to figure out how to prevent this inexplicably stupid plan, the good inhabitants of Windermere place all their hopes on flying to the moon to gather a crystal to pair with a hidden crystal they think they know the location of to somehow fix the problem. I say "somehow" because none of them actually know what the two crystals do, either individually or together. Meanwhile, Obie sets about learning swordplay, getting into arguments with the soldiers he spends his time with, and attending royal meals and festivals. As an aside, one thing that is odd about the book is the enormous verbiage spent discussing what everyone has for dinner. Despite the story supposedly taking place in the winter, with all the lights in the sky getting dimmer and colder (presumably making winter even harsher than normal), everyone almost always seems to have plenty to eat, and Hesse seems to feel the need to describe it all. Another oddity is that the horses and windlords (or winged horses) seem to eat nothing but clover in the book.

As noted before, the princess-figure is kidnapped, and Obie sets out with no one but his telepathic horse to rescue her. He comes across a lion-man to help him, but like most elements of the story, the fact that his companion is a lion-man turns out to be of little more than cosmetic consequence. Tau, as the lion-man calls himself, is more or less just a big strong guy. He fights with a sword, eats human food, acts like a normal man, and pretty much behaves more or less like Little John to Obie's Robin Hood. Along the way, they also pick up a mole named Mole to accompany them, who turns out to pretty much behave like a human in a mole suit. The odd thing about the quest is that almost all of the book is spent describing the travels of the characters, what they eat, and where they camp. The few times the heroes run across bad guys, they spend all their time running away from them. At one point they suffer through a blizzard and run out of food, but once they find some friends, that sort of privation is immediately forgotten. Once they reach their objective, they sort of run through the actual rescue in an almost perfunctory manner.

Of course, having rescued the damsel, the heroes have to foil the evil wizard. Once again, large volumes of space are spent on moving people about, until everyone is finally ready to confront the evil villain and his dragon, and then everything ends in a hurried deus ex machina ending. Adding insult to injury, after the villain's armies vanish in a puff of smoke (almost literally), he is killed, and all the bad things that happened to people are undone, the budding love triangle of the story is resolved in a Return of the Jedi type twist that is no less groan-inducing than George Lucas' original. Even the terrible memories of his own mother's death that haunt Obie are whisked away in a rather odd scene. Of course, after Obie returns to the real world, he's been changed for the better - where he was geeky, he becomes popular, where he was beset by a limp, he becomes a star athlete, where he fumbled over the girl of his dreams, he now confidently courts her, and so on. In effect, everything wraps up in a bow in the last ten or twenty pages of the book, as everything bad is basically washed away by overwhelming magical aid.

Although the book has serious problems, it does have some redeeming qualities. Though the book is mostly generic fantasy, the idea of having spider-men, called raks, and ant-men, called muks, as the villains' army is kind of unusual. Unfortunately, like many things in the book the fact that they are spider-men and ant-men is not particularly relevant (although the spider-men do have poisonous fangs). They don't seem to gain any particular advantage from having multiple limbs, and their one big advantage, the ability to climb sheer walls, never really comes into play, and they prove to have a huge weakness that makes them entirely useless as an army at the end of the book. The idea of the villain darkening the world is not a new one, featuring prominently in The Silmarillion for example, but it isn't a bad villainous plot (except for the fact that everyone on Earth, including the villain, will die as a result). Some opportunities seem to be missed - the "Shadow People" talked about in the book turn out to be little more than stereotypical Native American imitations that are really good at hiding, instead of people made of shadows, which would have been much more interesting.

In the end, this book seems like a missed opportunity. With a little more care, and a little more imagination, it could have been a pretty good young adult fantasy story. As it is, the unpolished nature of the setting, the extraordinarily slow movement of the plot, a wooden villain with an inexplicably dumb plan, the deus ex machina ending, coupled with some fairly stiff writing makes for a mediocre book. The fantasy elements are mostly bland and generic, which is not a failing in and of itself, but a book built on a fantasy world more or less interchangeable with a dozen others has to have a strong story, and this one simply does not. Perhaps because the book seems to be built on a child's daydream, nothing bad can happen, or seem like it is going to happen, and as a result, very little does happen other than a lot of walking around, a lot of exposition, and a lot of descriptions of dinner. This, unsurprisingly, does not make for a very interesting book.

This review has also been posted to my blog Dreaming About Other Worlds. ( )
24 vote StormRaven | Jun 16, 2010 |
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For my daughter Hilary, the light of my life, whose perceptive comments and good suggestions early on helped in shaping this tale, and my dear sister Oma, for believing in me.
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FEAR. TEETH-GNASHING, gut-wrenching fear ignited in him like a flash fire.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0982469306, Paperback)

17-year-old Obie Griffin knew he was a jinx. He d proven that. So why was he chosen to fulfill an old prophecy and become the Protector of the Moonpath Riders, the beautiful Gabrielle and her windlord, Mara? Whisked back to an ancient kingdom at a time when black sorcery is destroying the world, he must decide whether to remain there, or return to the safety of his own time if it still exists. When an unexpected event occurs, Obie makes a decision that hurls him into an epic journey with his horse, Shadow, and two unlikely companions. Traveling through gloomy oak forests and deadly highland blizzards, they encounter Zelda the River Witch, enemy goblins, fierce warriors spawned by black magic, and others. But the worst is yet to come, for it dawns on Obie that he must soon defend Gabrielle against the King of Darkness in a battle to save the earth---and the soul be thinks he's lost.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:03 -0400)

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