This has been long in its coming, and I apologize (Barbara)! Today I am going to review book two of Barbara Kloss's Pandoran Novel series, The Keeper's Flame. Barbara (you can get to know her a little better over at http://scribblesnjots.blogspot.com/) is a beautiful and talented woman. She has become a source of motivation for me, and a mentor (with or without her knowing it), and she has written two AMAZING BOOKS.
First and foremost, if you have not read Gaia's Secret, DO SO NOW!
Here is a link to the book:
Now, for the sequel: The Keeper's Flame: (WARNING, if you have not read GAIA'S SECRET, you might not want to read on!).
Now for those of you who have read Gaia's Secret, it is about a girl, Daria Jones, who sort of stumbles into a world of magic. All her life she was sheltered by her father, though he was always gone one 'business' trips. She found happiness and comfort in a family, The Andersons, who she thought would always be there for her, but as it turns out, her best friend, Alex, just sort of leaves one day and Daria is devastated, so she pushes them away.
Then one day, all of that changes and she is pushed into Gaia in search of her father, accompanied by the Del Contes (formally, the Andersons), and Alex himself. Daria enters an amazing and beautiful world of magic and frightening creatures. It's a world where Daria doesn't really feel that she belongs--in fact, the connection she has to Gaia is so strong, the reader can feel it! It is also a world in which she HAS to belong. She has no choice--it is where her family is, where her mother died, and where secrets remained buried deep.
Now, if you didn't finish Gaia's Secret (AND I don't know how you couldn't!), you wouldn't know this, but Daria is a Princess, and The Keeper's Flame is sort of centered around Daria's inner struggle of trying to be a Princess with no magic in a Kingdom where you really are a nobody without magic. Instead, Daria trains with her brother Stephan in secret, determined to undermine her grandfather's oppressive rule. Daria is a very strong character. Not only is she independent, but she is also intuitive, having a distinct sense of right and wrong, she is very geared toward justice.
Barbara contrasts Daria well with Stephan, her brother and the heir to the thrown by demonstrating how cowardice he can be in situations, and how he is unwilling to stand up for himself or what he believes in. He sort of just goes with the flow and Daria calls him out on it. Unlike Daria, he is also not willing to take risks. You see this change slowly as Stephan realizes he cannot always be so passive.
New and old characters surface--those you will hate and those you actually (surprisingly grow to love). I won't tell you about man of them, but I'll talk about Alex. Alex appears at random throughout The Keeper's Flame, and his personality is like a spark. He is a character you automatically love and want to see more of, and it will be interesting to see how much he is developed through the other books, considering his presence will (hopefully) increase.
Now, The Keeper's Flame takes place mainly in the castle. At first I wasn't sure how this would work out. Literally, 3/4 of the book are behind walls, but let me tell you, there was no lack of action or interest! I'm not sure how Barbara managed it, but I was thoroughly entranced the whole time. Between balls and magic, and creepiness, it was a mixture of suspense and surprise. The main source of suspense comes from The Games, a tournament different territories fight in in hopes of gaining the Unity Stone, and the rumor that the Dark Rider has returned for it and Daria.
Without magic, however, Daria doesn't understand how she can be of use to the Dark Rider, and her only hope is saving Fleck, a Dalorian child who could prove to be very dangerous as he comes into his powers.
This book has so many well-crafted and well-kept secrets, you'll be turning pages to figure out who is on the right side! I can't tell you anymore, I don't want to give it away, but hopefully you'll read both books and hold your breath for the third! I am!