4 out of 4 stars
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The Bellringer is the first book in William Timothy Murray’s The Year of the Red Door series. It follows Robby, an ordinary store assistant, who finds out that his life may not be as ordinary as he thinks it is. It is written in third-person point of view. The book explores themes such as good versus evil, friendship, and love.
Robby Ribbon only meant to deliver a letter to someone. Somewhere along the way, he got lost and came upon a fortress that protected the Great Bell. He accidentally rang the Great Bell while running for his life from a pack of hungry wolves. When the bell rang, it broke the enchantments that guarded it for many centuries. The tolling of the bell was also heard throughout the Seven Realms, and it attracted the supporters and old enemies of an ancient kingdom. Unknown to Robby, that incident changed his life forever.
This fantasy adventure novel had many strong points. There was a smooth transition from one chapter to another. Each chapter uses a different character to focus on. The author did not solely focus on Robby’s adventures. There was ample time for the secondary characters to leave an impression to readers. I understood what the other characters were experiencing. They saw the situation in a different light than the main character, and that difference was something I appreciate as well. There was also a steady pace throughout the story. It was not too slow to bore the readers and not too fast to confuse them. Even the action-packed parts were carefully crafted. It did not feel rushed. There was also enough time to build up suspense.
Although there were many likable characters, I liked Sheila the most. Sheila was tomboyish, but she had a feminine side as well. She was a strong and skillful woman. She had a troubled past, but she never stopped moving forward. I loved that she was not like the typical damsel-in-distress character I read in most fantasy novels. Rather than wait to be saved by Robby, she works hard to save herself and the others around her.
Without a doubt, Mr. Murray created a masterpiece. From the complex world-building to a myriad set of realistic characters, The Bellringer was excellently done. I easily award it with 4 out of 4 stars. Readers should be ready to laugh, cry, rage, love, despair, and hope. Since this is only the first book in the series, some readers may have unanswered questions by the end of the book. I have questions, too, but I did not feel that it had a cliffhanger ending. Rather, I am excited to read the next book! I did a little research and found out that the other four books in the series were already published. Readers who enjoy fantasy adventure such as the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien would surely find delight in The Bellringer.
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