Review for The Crystal Chalice
1. Having reviewed the first book in The Lost Myths Saga (The Land of the Wand) last year, I was looking forward to reading the sequel – and I’m glad to say it did not disappoint!
Picking up one year after the close of their previous adventure, all is not well with our intrepid trans-dimensional travelers and their problems make them seem all the more rooted in reality, which in turn, gives the fantasy side of the story a more grounded feel.
Again, there are lessons to be learned (I won’t divulge – it would ruin the story for you all) and an over-riding sense that all is not necessarily as it seems on first viewing – friends can be untrustworthy and those who would seem to want to do harm may turn out to be a blessing in disguise – it’s all topsy-turvy!
This flew by at a lightning pace as it was so easy to read – it reads almost like talking to a friend and kind of sinks into you naturally as you turn the pages. The lessons learned by the characters happen quite naturally within the flow of the plot, and so doesn't seem too "preachy", as you might expect from a book with a message, and leaves things nicely open for the third instalment in the saga.
Surprisingly accessible, this could easily be enjoyed by those not at all familiar with Paganism or with the old myths and legends that are cleverly reinvented.
Review by Kell Smurthwaite, On the Shelf Reviews
The Crystal Chalice
By Debora ElizaBeth Hill and Sandra Brandenburg
Review by Heather Froeschl of www.Bookideas.com
What if our myths and legends were based on certain souls in another dimension? What if Lucifer was just a lonely, heart hungry king? What if Puck was just a randy, misunderstood spirit in search of compassion? In “The Crystal Chalice,” by Debora ElizaBeth Hill and Sandra Brandenburg, readers are led to believe that just about anything we believe could be a twisted truth.
In this second volume of the Lost Myths Saga, we find our favorite characters searching for answers as well as searching for themselves. Lily is torn between chasing her college diploma and keeping a hold on her rock star lover, Marshall. Marshall doesn’t seem very torn up about his infidelity even though he loves Lily with all of his heart. Evan is anxious for his love Valaura to commit to him, while Valaura is sensing just a bit of something missing, not knowing exactly what it could be. Evan decides it is time for a break with reality, at least this version of it, and finds a way for the foursome to be transported back to the lands of unreality…the World of Lost Myths.
There, King Lucifer still vies for Valaura’s hand, Marshall once again falls under the spell of lust, and Lily and Evan are unsure what to do. Twenty years have gone by in Lucifer’s world while only one has passed in Evan’s life. The kingdoms face some troubling times when one of their own is attacked by a clan of warrior women, anxious to steal a few good men to fertilize the troops, and another group is found to be taking over the lands of the Princess Ariel’s family. Fantastical creatures abound with flying horses, horse-sized cat-steeds, crystal beings, winged young princes, and hooved kings. Will our four heroes find the answer to the questions they seek? Will they find a way to help their beloved friends in the Lost Myths World? Will they discover the path that leads back home?
Debora Hill and Sandra Brandenburg have written a saga of success and readers can be assured that the magic will continue. Examining the possibility that our myths have rather mundane roots is genius. Creating a tale full of the legendary, the romantic, the adventurous and the heart tugging is a formula for a fun read. I look forward to enjoying more from these two.
ROMANCE AT HEART
Title:Land of the Wand: Volume I Lost Myths Saga
Author:Debora Hill and Sandra Brandenburg
Author web site: http://www.lostmythsink.com/
Published in March 2006 by Fire Mountain Press
POS link: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Related Books: The Crystal Chalice: Volume II Lost Myths Saga, The Sword and the Scabbard: Volume III Lost Myths Saga, The Pentacular: Volume IV Lost Myths Saga
An intricately designed wand, with a clear crystal set in the center, artlessly displays in a gift shop. Enticed by its unique beauty, four people embrace the wand transporting them to another world. Two weeks into the book tour, Evan Stone tires from the unwanted female advances and hanging about bookstores. The only thing to capture his eye is Valaura Bennet’s presence; the architect who designed the Illinois Center the bookstore resides. Still, after autographing his book, she refuses Evan’s invitation to lunch. Done for the day, Evan wanders into an import gift store where a silver wand is mounted on the wall. Intrigued by its craftsmanship, Evan handles it as a story develops in his head as the clear crystal turns a soft pink, and then glows to a blinding glare. Evan regains consciousness on a marble slab, taking in his attire that of a court jester, amused by the bells on his curled-toed shoes, a mandolin flung across his back, and a flute tucked in his belt. Evan’s delivered to the castle by some villagers, who gawk at his feet, as they are not hooves, like theirs.
In Chicago for a concert with his band, Stockholm, Marshall Storme enters the Illinois Center looking for Evan Stone’s new novel. Making his purchase, he heads toward a café selling cappuccino, when a young woman captures his attention. On observation, she looks tire and poor, but gorgeous nonetheless. Wishing to invite her for lunch, Marshall looses her in the crowd. Walking back, he detours into a gift shop hoping to find his mother a birthday present. The wand draws his attention. In his hands the crystal changes to a watery blue, turning cold as the room begins to shimmer and fade. Marshall feels himself falling, hearing the resonating thud as the wand hits the floor. Marshall awakens, finding himself weighted down by full body armor. Greeted by some men, he is confused as they question him about wearing the habbard of the Savior, rumbling about a prophecy, and the Chosen One.
Valaura Bennet thought Evan’s lunch invite a bit arrogant, believing her beauty is not her greatest asset. Still, his complimenting her architectural designing of the Illinois Center impresses her. With her day’s business complete, Valaura goes into the gift shopm complexion er sensuousr been her greatest asset, the woman.ape, Marshall recognizes her from the Illinois Centeree limbs ca looking for a gift for her niece. Spying the wand, she fingers it as the jewel turns a wheaten color, still stroking it as the room slowly begins to fade… Coming to on a white Arabian, Valaura almost looses control of the beast. Letting the horse lead her to shady hill area, she dismounts. Discarding her tight jacket, Valaura notices the horse pawing a mound of dirt; though on closer inspection she discovers a sword. She restores the blade’s razor-sharp edge, and then cuts away, shortening her long riding skirt. Remounting her horse, Valaura allows the mare, now named Wendy, to lead her to an ivory castle.
Lillian Curtis escapes her religious, poverty-stricken farm life. After two years, she still lives in poverty, since working in a fast food restaurant is all that is available to someone without a high school diploma. In the Illinois Center, Lillian enjoys window-shopping before returning to work. Passing Marshall Storme on the escalator makes her day, a fan of his rock band, Stockholm. Drawn by the beautiful window display, she enters the gift shop. The crystal’s splendor lures Lillian to finger the gem, filling the room with a brilliant radiance. Reaching out, she walks though the light. Standing in a field surrounded by trees, Lillian discovers herself dressed in a splendid blue gown. Carefully, so as not to ruin the dress, she makes way to a lake on the other side of the glade. Walking a long its edge she is distracted by a castle in the distance. Marauders jump Lillian, ripping her gown. An armored man on horseback cuts down her attackers with his sword. Scurrying up a hill, Lillian runs into Evan and Valaura.
The four travelers meet within the castle of King Nicholas, in the Land of Wand. They learn from the witch, Augustina that Daemonas, the hoofed people, are about to war with the Anjeles, the winged ones. Marshall, the Savior will lead these people, a long with Evan, the Troubadour, Valaura, the Warrior Maid, and Lillian, the Savior’s Consort; the prophecy foretells this. A Swedish peacekeeper, Marshall refuses to lead the Daemonas, demanding to return to his world. Augustina informs him the wand can only bring people to the Land of Wand; no traveler has yet discovered how to leave. The foursome learns the Anjeles believe Daemonas are the mark of Cain, and can only be saved through a torturous penitence. With the Savior at hand, the Daemonas feel ready for battle; they just need a strong leader. Marshall and Evan accompany the Daemonas, scouting for the Anjeles, while the castle comes under siege. With Lillian at her side, Valaura commands a small army to block the pending Anjeles attack. They capture one young female Anjeles before the rest scurry away in defeat. Marshall’s idea in using their angelic prisoner as a peacekeeping influence, the Daemonas may very well win the war. First, they must break the language barrier between them and her. Then unifying all the peoples can they suitably build a successful army against the Anjeles. King Nicholas’ calls his brothers: King Lucifer of the Land of Chalice, King Mephistopheles of the Land of Pentacle, and King Beelzebub of the Land of Swords come together as the war council begins their strategy.
Land of the Wand: Volume I Lost Myths Saga is a captivating fantasy story, with an action-filled plot overshadowed by Biblical allusions. Ms. Hill and Ms. Brandenburg’s characters are rich in personality overflowing with authentic appeal, as they command their destinies in an unknown world. Evan appears as the voice reason when Marshall’s youthful vigor (read: libido) and ego obstructs rational thinking. Valaura, a warrior, shows this new world how women are capable of defending themselves, through skillful weapon use and strategic battle plans. Lillian’s compassionate nature has her defending the powerless, even ensuring the Anjeles captive is safe. Marshall seems self-centered but his peaceful nature has him calm during conflict and commanding respect with his diplomatic resolutions. Spread throughout this story is romance. Lillian and Marshall’s passion suffers many betrayals, though heated moments of forgiveness too. Evan and Valaura skirt around their mounting affections. Not until she is wounded does their love blossom, as Evan confesses his love. Sterling, the King’s nephew, falls in love with the captive Anjeles, naming her Ariel. There is a host of other characters, too many to mention, combined with some imaginative creatures too, making for a thoroughly enjoyable read. Published by Fire Mountain Press, Land of the Wand is an entertaining story that continues in The Crystal Chalice, also from Fire Mountain.
Reviewed by Pamela Jenewein
Title:The Crystal Chalice: Volume II Lost Myths Saga
Author: Debora Hill and Sandra Brandenburg
Author web site: http://www.lostmythsink.com/
Published in December 2006 by Fire Mountain Press
POS link: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Related Books: Land of the Wand: Volume I Lost Myths Saga, The Sword and the Scabbard: Volume III Lost Myths Saga, The Pentacular: Volume IV Lost Myths Saga
Since returning from the Land of Wand, Lillian moves to Stockholm, Sweden to be near Marshall, as he continues his music tours. Without her, Marshall still dallies with the groupies that destroy their relationship. Valaura and Evan have not married, though not for the lack of trying on Evan’s part. He fears loosing Valaura so commissions the wand to be remolded into a chalice. Celebrating the anniversary of the Land of Wand trip, Lillian, Valaura, Evan and Marshall meet in Stockholm to drink from the newly molded cup…transporting them to the Land of the Chalice, King Lucifer’s kingdom.
Lillian arrives close to King Lucifer’s home where she meets his son, Abaddon, a true Anjeles with ebony wings. Questioning the boy Lillian discovers twenty years has passed since their last visit, in her time only a year has gone by. Ariel and Sterling’s daughter, Silvera is now twenty. Valaura turns up in Lucifer’s bedroom where he is sleeping with a beautiful woman. Lucifer stirs and follows her out of his room. Valaura learns how many years passed since their last visit. Lucifer’s interest in her is evident when he suggests she share his bed for a needed rest. Marshall lands in Silvera’s chamber. He is stunned to hear twenty years has passed too. Marshall, true to form, beds the girl not realizing she is the daughter of Ariel and Sterling, his friends, and granddaughter to King Lucifer. Evan appears on a balcony inside the castle. Sterling comes to his rescue delivering him to the banquet.
As they join in the banquet room, it is clear that Silvera is an overly indulged young woman, commanding everyone around her including her grandfather, Lucifer. Then she declares Marshall is her consort now and that Lillian is nothing more then a concubine, infuriating both Lillian and Valaura. Moreover, Sterling and Lucifer are angry ordering Marshall to form a blood bond to restore Silvera’s compromised virtue. Marshall quickly tires of Silvera’s obnoxious childish behavior, but indulges in one more dalliance before tossing her aside. Defusing the situation, Lucifer takes Marshall and Evan on a frost monster hunting expedition, which Valaura joins too. During this hunting trip, Evan realizes that he may loose Valaura’s heart to King Lucifer, but will honor any choice she makes on the matter. Attacking the hunting party, Amazzone women kidnap Marshall and Evan, for breeding purposes.
With the men hunting, Ariel announces plans for a birthday ball in honor of Silvera turning twenty. However, with the aid of Lucifer’s older brothers; King Nicholas of the Land of the Wand, King Mephistopheles of the Land of the Pentacle, and King Beelzebub of the Land of Swords, Ariel’s plan includes squashing Lucifer and Sterling’s order that Marshall and Silvera become bond mates. Once her father-in-law’s brothers arrive, Ariel informs them of her brother, Puck has gathered rogue Anjeles to resettle her father’s land. Her presence in the Land of the Flyers is crucial to ensure her brother does not succeed with an uprising. Meanwhile, Silvera knows the baby is Marshall’s, and glad for it. When she expresses happiness with her mother’s leaving, Feldspar, her only friend, sees Silvera as a spoiled, willful young woman. She is distraught when he turns away from her in disgust. As the kingdom prepares to rescue Marshall and Evan, the men endure degrading treatment in the Amazzone women’s hands. Marshall bucks at their superiority and command of his body, whereas Evan quietly submits waiting for the opportunity to escape.
The Crystal Chalice: Volume II Lost Myths Saga, published by Fire Mountain Press, continues this engaging story. Ms. Hill and Ms. Brandenburg masterfully allows this story to be read on its own or in sequence, giving the reader a choice. Like its predecessor, the plot is engrossing, drawing the reader in from the first page and never letting go. Evan Stone, Valaura Bennet, Marshall Storme and Lillian Curtis revive their original roles with more maturity and confidence. Marshall and Lillian’s love is troubled throughout this story, while Evan and Valaura’s love matures. Even with King Lucifer’s wooing of Valaura, Evan remains true, trusting her heart. Adding some intrigue and spice is Silvera, bratty, demanding daughter to Sterling and Ariel, whereas their son, Abaddon is a delightful addition with his flying antics and innocent playfulness. Yet, I cannot help but laugh when the Amazzone women take prisoner, Marshall and Evan. I felt certain Marshall’s shout of joy could be clearly heard, though only overshadowed by worried for Evan’s survival. In the end, my concern should have remained with Marshall, maybe because he is so young and immature the sordid ordeal lingers with him. Yet, his lesson in fidelity was a hard one. The furbles, huge cats made for riding and the frost monsters make for more entertainment. So does the return of Herschel who finally finds love again, since his first wife died in the first book leaving him miserable. Sterling and Ariel rekindled their love as they join forces to confront her brother Puck, and his renegade band of Anjeles’. Check the authors’ web site for future releases of the Lost Myths Sagas, and other upcoming books.
Reviewed by Pamela Jenewein
Enjoyable light fantasy--with some nice twists on myth, January 30, 2007
Reviewer: Rob booksforabuck "BooksForABuck.com"
After their return from the Land of the Wand, Marshall Storme, his girlfriend Lillian Curtis, Valaura Bennet, and Evan Stone try to create new lives on earth. But Evan can't seem to get Valaura to commit to him, to agree to marry and create a family. And Marshall's life as a rock star is just a little too tempting for him--when Lillian isn't around and beautiful Italian women camp out in his suite, it's just so easy to take what's being offered. Recognizing that the four need a push to move past the points where they've all become stuck, Evan comes up with the idea of returning to the magical land where they first fell in love--this time however, to the land of the Cup, the Chalice, rather than the land of the wand.
To Evan's dismay, the Land of the Cup provides new challenges to their love rather than resolving questions. The beautiful princess Silvera falls for Marshall and seduces him--with him unaware that by doing so, he's committing to be her mate. And King Lucifer, ruler of the land, sees Valaura's inability to commit to Evan as an open invitation for him to press his own suit. Things only get worse when Amazons kidnap both of the men--to turn them into sex slaves.
The four must wrestle with their own feelings while they attempt to ward off the threats from Amazons, lustful royalty, and the beautiful but dangerous Angele.
Authors Debora Hill and Sandra Brandenberg continue the story they begain in LAND OF THE WAND with a second tale of mixed up myth, all-too-human temptation, and magic. THE CRYSTAL CHALICE does have some 'middle book' awkwardness--romances we thought were resolved in the first book turn unresolved and the ending seems to demand a third book to wrap things up, but Hill and Brandenberg keep things moving along, bring back familiar friends from the earlier volume, and introduce new groups of characters, new facets of the magic of the land, and new romantic issues for our heroes to deal with.
If you enjoy light-hearted fantasy, there's a lot to like in this continuation of THE LOST MYTHS SAGA.