What does it really mean to be “comfortable” in life?  Some people would describe it as a position of relative happiness and well-being.  Satisfied and content with what you have.  When such a state is reached, it can be difficult to imagine doing anything else which may compromise it.  Why mess up a good thing?  Be that as it may, there are many people out there who will risk their comfort and security in favor of setting off for thrilling adventures or quests.  The need to discover something overcoming the cozy and pleasant existence they have become accustomed to.  This scenario is just such the case in the fantasy novella The Living Sword  by author Pemry Janes.  A great pick for readers who enjoy their fantasy packed with action and self-discovery.

Essentially, the book follows the travels of young Eurik who is the main protagonist in the novella.  He is an orphaned boy who was found and raised by the non-human society called the San.  Eurik grows up quite happy and content in this peace loving culture.  During his stay he learns their peculiar customs as well as the tremendous powers that they possess.  Powers he adopts as his own. All is good.  However, when his San teacher ultimately reveals to Eurik that he was found adrift in a boat with his parents many years  ago- things are about to drastically change!  Not only is the nature of Eurik’s background and discovery revealed, but he is also presented with his inheritance… a living sword of great power.  Inspired to explore his own heritage and discover what actually became of his parents, Eurik heads out on his quest with sword in hand.  Will he ever unearth the secrets of his background?  Or is Eurik’s once comfortable life about to be blown up in a very hair-raising manner?

Undoubtedly, coming of age is the major theme in The Living Sword.  Eurik’s brave travels are designed to inspire his growth in a very exciting fashion.  His quest is fraught with pitched battles and the process of self-discovery with each passing page.   Eurik virtually grows right before the reader’s eyes as we begin to get a much better idea of where he comes from and what he is made of.  Make no mistake however, while the growth of Eurik is the overriding theme in the novella, it is aptly supported by a number of secondary motifs.  For instance, friendship and loyalty virtually saturate the tale.  This is cleverly revealed during the many battles and skirmishes which take place.  Relationships form and loyalty and alliances develop.  Far from seeming contrived, the many action scenes are critical story events which support the themes and development of the characters.

In regards to the various characters in the tale, as a reader I have mixed feelings.  For example, I find Broken Fang to be a very dynamic player with her own unique strengths and flaws.  She is absolutely a very strong female lead who is entirely believable.  Eurik on the other hand comes across as rather bland.  Even while we witness his growth and development, it comes across as devoid of emotion and he lacks the spark needed for a protagonist to be truly memorable.  However, I do realize this is most likely done by the author intentionally to support the San background and overall plot development.  I do feel that if the story had been longer , Eurik would begin to pop out of this flat cocoon into a more energetic player.

Author Pemry Janes does a wonderful job in creating a believable story-world.  It can be easily visualized and aptly supports the many story events.  I particularly liked how the the San world was juxtaposed with that of the humans.  Creative and thought provoking!

Overall I would recommend this novella to fantasy readers.  It has an exciting plot which flows from start to finish.  I also understand it was recently revised and professionally edited.  That certainly shows in the final product.

4 out of 5 Living Stars for this one!