Adventures are funny things.
They may creep out of holes,
appear down a seldom trodden path,
fall out of a tree,
or even arrive in an envelope,
but they always start in the same way.
Adventures always begin with the unexpected.
Thus begins the first book of Wayne Thomas Batson's trilogy, The Door Within.
I hate to admit how quickly I read the first book, and not so much because I was riveted to it as that I wanted to be done so that I could send at least one of the books home with my daughter after Christmas, giving her a chance to read one before the blog tour.
The Door Within is the story of teenaged Aidan Thomas. When his grandfather suffers the ravages of advanced age, Aidan's parents make the decision to move from Maryland to Ohio to care for the old man. Aidan has been a misfit for much of his life and had recently made a new friend; he is angry at being torn away from his home and quite unimpressed with his senile grandfather.
Strange things begin to happen to Aidan shortly after the move: the sense of being watched, the terror of nightmares, and the weirdness of three clay jars appearing into what had been an empty space in a creepy basement. These three jars contain scrolls with a fascinating story about a place called The Realm which includes the Kingdom of Alleble.
Aidan begins to believe that The Realm is real, and that King Eliam of Alleble is calling him. In a rare lucid moment his grandfather encourages Aidan to find the key--the key to the Door Within. Aidan believes and is brought into The Realm to become the Twelfth Knight. The knights are sent on a mission to persuade the King of Mithegarde to rally with Eliam rather than Eliam's enemy, Paragor.
During this mission, Aidan learns the true nature of The Realm's people, the Glimpses. He also finds the true reason he was brought to The Realm--the task only he could accomplish--and that he is never alone.
Wayne Thomas Batson writes for a tween audience in this epic fantasy adventure. Many of the traditional fantasy quest elements play a role in this story, from knights and castles to dragons and swords. But Batson puts his own spin on these elements (and others) to create a new world where faith and goodness hold out against evil and terror.
The major negative I found in The Door Within was the use of exclamation marks. Not only was way too much of the dialogue melodramatically exclaimed, but a considerable amount of the thoughts and actions as well. It took a bit of effort to ignore the telltale marks and focus on the story alone.
Secondarily, the point of view was not rock solid. It seemed to me that Aidan was privy to way too many thoughts that weren't in his own head. (This was an even bigger problem in the second book, The Rise of the Wyrm Lord, where there were two protagonists.)
By the third book, The Final Storm I wasn't noticing either of these problems anymore. Whether they had ceased to exist I couldn't say. I do know that the story line got stronger and stronger throughout the series. Stay tuned for more tomorrow...and an interview on Wednesday.