The Thirteenth Scroll, by Rebecca Neason

the-thirteenth-scroll-by-rebecca-neason coverGenre: Fantasy
Publisher: Warner Books
Published: 2001
Reviewer Rating: three and a half stars
Book Review by Lisa DuMond

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The kingdom of Aghamore has been through an upheaval when it was left without a ruler many years ago. Now, the king is dead and everyone, it seems, wants to be the king. The barons of the nine provinces of the land desperately want the crown, but only one can sit on the throne. If a decision cannot be reached quickly war will erupt again. There are some who will do anything to prevent that.

There are two people who are determined to avert the fighting and to keep evil forces from taking over the kingdom, but they are an unlikely pair of heroes. A young woman must abandon the quiet life she knows as a healer in the heart of the forest. Lysandra’s special Sight may lead to them to the answer; her own sight was taken away years ago in a violent attack. Armed only with her Sight, an ancient prophetic scroll’s vague instructions, and two peculiar companions, she must travel across the dark landscape to save her people.

With so little going for her, it could hardly get worse, but a powerful sorceress is determined to find the secret of the scroll and place her lover on the throne. As lethal as Lysandra is gentle, Aurya is a formidable foe. She will do whatever it takes to obtain the power she craves. Anyone is expendable, including the Baron she claims to love and anyone who stands in her way. Whether her dark magic is enough to overcome the powers of the light remains to be seen.

In The Thirteenth Scroll, Neason has created an amazing and beguiling new world. The kingdom is territory worth exploring at length. The secrets revealed by the scroll are a story within themselves, with fascinating creatures and terrains. Her trio of heroes are a unique and eclectic group, the perfect focus for a quest. Neason has set up a complex dynamic between Lysandra and Renan (one of her companions) that is not easily solved.

No simple solutions — that is part of the attraction of The Thirteenth Scroll. Neason refuses to wrap up every plot point into a tidy package for readers. There are questions left unanswered and conflicts unresolved at the end of this book. That’s right; this story is far from over on the last page. If there are more volumes in store, it feels like a natural progression of this tale, not a deliberate attempt to string out a good idea.

Lysandra’s adventures will no doubt continue (or we will never know if good triumphs!). For once, this is a narrative that deserves to be played out in full. Neason’s characters are people the reader will gladly follow to wherever their path leads, hanging on every success and feeling for every failure along the way. Not everything is guaranteed to turn out for the best, but life is like that, even, and maybe especially, in a distant kingdom called Aghamore.

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