4 out of 4 stars
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Frozen Path (Children of the Zodiac: Book 1) (2015), by Steven N. Mouland, is a fantasy novel available as an e-book or as a paperback. The story features the topics of destiny, fate, friendship, loyalty, trust, individualism, women's rights, the responsibility to help those in need, and security versus freedom. This appears to be the author's first published book.
The tale takes place on an earthlike planet, thousands of years after its technologically advanced society was devastated by war. The setting is similar to our medieval period. Wizards and demons play major roles in the tale. The wizards' specialized magic is based on their control of earth, wind, water, or fire. They can't simply wave magic wands and pull off miracles to get themselves out of predicaments. Supernatural events are smoothly incorporated into the narrative; the tale remains focused on the characters.
The three chief protagonists are young adults who are strangers to one another as the story begins; however, their destinies are linked. Their lives are turned upside-down during the tale, and they all experience intriguing, dangerous adventures that force them to mature quickly. It is their responsibility to develop and use their powers to help those who need protection from an ancient dark force that has returned to the world.
Women are featured prominently throughout the action. The tale hints at a fascinating father-daughter confrontation, perhaps a fight to the death, but it is unsettled in this book, which is the first of a trilogy. The story includes a man who seeks to expand his power by frightening citizens into relinquishing freedom for the promise of increased security, much like many of today's heads of state.
The author gives us a richly detailed fictional world, with many unique characteristics and an ensemble cast of secondary characters. The story mainly consists of action and dialogue; there are no long, boring passages. The numerous fine points are welcome if you like to read slowly and absorb such details, but you can easily get confused if you read the book too quickly. Mr. Mouland has also included a substantial amount of his own poetry that intertwines with the narrative.
Frozen Path has earned 4 out of 4 stars. The author writes clearly and concisely, with first-rate grammar. There are no substantial problems with the book, but many major issues remain unresolved, so if you enjoy the story you will need to read the sequels. This is an excellent book for people who enjoy good-versus-evil tales featuring wizards and supernatural events. The novel includes no profanities or explicit sex, and the violence is not excessively graphic, so it is suitable for readers of all ages.
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