Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: The Tapestry series by Henry H. Neff

It's been too long since I posted a book review here. I guess it's been a while since I read one so worthy of the time it takes. This one is a Huge Winner! I am adding Max (and David and friends) to my favorite character list. I might even love him more than I love Harry. If you love fantasy this is a must read.

Amazon: The Tapestry series by Henry H. Neff   

Synopsis from Henry H Neff web site:
The Tapestry is a contemporary fantasy fiction series that follows the life of a boy named Max McDaniels. The series comprises four novels of which two, The Hound of Rowan and The Second Siege, have already been published and nominated for a number of awards. In addition to compelling characters and an epic story, the books are notable for combining a range of genres, including fantasy, history, mythology, folklore, and science fiction. Henry H. Neff both writes and illustrates the books.
The story of The Tapestry occurs in our world and during the present day. Old Magic is reawakening and a demon named Astaroth has returned to raise the stakes in an ancient war. This war threatens to consume not only cities and governments, but history itself.
Mankind's greatest hopes for independence and survival lie with Rowan Academy. Rowan is the last school of magic where those possessing special gifts are trained to serve as stewards of the arcane arts and guardians of mystic creatures that have faded with the modern age. From Rowan, powerful Mystics and deadly Agents continue the struggle against things that go bump in the night.
With Astaroth's resurgence, however, Rowan is overwhelmed. The battle passes into the hands of Max McDaniels and his roommate, David Menlo. The same Old Magic that is transforming the world also courses in their veins, making these two boys extraordinary even by Rowan's standards. While David's abilities rival those of the greatest sorcerers of the past, Max is believed by some to be a modern incarnation of the Irish hero CĂșchulain. The two boys are called to combine their gifts and face a world marked by a new hierarchy of creatures great and small, which are pushing humankind beyond the fringes of civilization.

Watch a little video of the books here.         

My Review:
I have just finished this series. Having never heard of it, the boys and I picked up book one, The Hound of Rowan, in audio format at the library. From the first 5 minutes we were hopelessly hooked on the series. We eagerly listened to the first four books, hanging on every word. To our great dismay, we discovered that the series finale, The Red Winter, is only available in e-book form. I am not sure what failure on the part of the publisher this was due to. But the fact that I had never heard of this book may be a sign of poor wide spread publicity, though they did receive several awards. This series is a fantastic blend of everything we love about Harry Potter and Percy Jackson rolled into one. I can honestly say this series may actually top Harry and Percy for me. And I, being a big fan, don't say that lightly. If it were publicized more it could have made some movie company, Harry Potter rivaling, mountains of profit.
In my opinion, any book you dream about nightly while reading and after, can't wait to get to reading time for, stay up too too late because you CAN NOT put it down, that's a very good book. That is The Tapestry series by Henry H. Neff.

My sons are 11 and 12. This book is appropriate for late elementary school age and above. I would not read it to or put it in the hands of a child less than 10 years of age. For one, they will skip the hard to pronounce words which is poor reading. (There is a pronunciation key, which is invaluable). There are deep concepts to navigate. The violence is more of a PG rating. It is also helpful to have read folklore and mythology from around the world, especially Celtic and European.

Some of the things I love about this book:
  • Very well written and edited. A big plus these days.
  • Does not shy from large and descriptive words.
  • The diverse genres that it embodies.
  • The seamless cohesiveness between books in plot, characters, and style.
  • The sub characters, not just the main ones, flow into every book together. Or you at least can easily place where they come from.
  • Well developed and endearing characters.
  • Fantasy taken from mythology.
  • Action packed. On the edge of your seat!
  • Exciting plot twists that surprised us.
  • Proper emphasis on family relationships and bonds.
  • Excellent character traits embody the main character Max, who really is a worthy role model. He is humble, kind, loyal, honest, faithful to family and friends, brave even when afraid. He struggles, and succeeds, to master self control and do what is right. He is generous to others, fights for the underdog, he faces his failures and makes amends.
  • Evil is treated as such.
  • The concept of bias/prejudice is addressed and confronted in context of the story line.  It encourages discernment rather than pre-conceived assumptions about those who are different and even long standing oppositions.
  • Romantic elements are G rated and tastefully endearing.
  • There are no lulls or dead parts that drag in any part of the series.
  • While many battles are fought, I appreciate that the gore is not overly descriptive. PG
  • The ending is VERY satisfactory and does not leave you thinking that there should have been better closure, but it is a question as to whether or not that will happen right up to the end. I like that a lot. 
  • Read the pronunciation guides in each book. Many names and terms are in Gaelic.
  • There is some mild cussing. None extraneous.
  • There are a few characters who apparently are womanizers. They are not written as favorable characters.
  • For those sensitive to such topics: there are witches, demons, and magic. Celtic in nature mostly. There is also positive mention of the one supreme God. This is in no way a religious book of any sort.
  • I strongly recommend this as an outstanding book. And I strongly recommend to the publishers to print the last book, The Red Winter.
He is writing another book. May be a series? I will be interested in reading it.

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