Cephrael’s Hand is what George R.R. Martin might write if he were a woman
I have been reading a lot of fantasy lately. A lot of that has everything to do with the sheer volume of self-published quality fantasy books currently being made available. Cephrael’s Hand: A Pattern of Shadow and Light by Melissa McPhail is one such novel.
Cephrael’s Hand is a mass adventure that takes place in a medieval-like world that boasts shape-shifting dragons and the sort of magic that is wrapped up in patterns of the universe. It is an amalgamation of stories that all coalesce together to form one solid plot, similar to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Unlike Martin’s work, though, Cephrael’s Hand leaves out the incest and sex, instead focusing its female characters on being stronger and more respected in their communities. There is a lot of political intrigue, a hint of romance (a sort of “will they or won’t they?”) and characters that you immediately begin to care about. It’s an old sort of tale with an entirely new concept and it is one that is very difficult to put down.
Like Martin’s books, this novel, too, is a long one, clocking in at 654 pages. But it’s a story you don’t ever want to end, and fortunately, there is a sequel (which I will be reading next). McPhail has managed to create a world that you want to live in and exist in and has given us characters that we cannot help but to empathize with. One particular character is Trell of the Tides, a man who has forgotten who he is – he is currently on a quest in search of his true identity. I found Trell wonderfully thought out and cannot wait to see him discover his true nature. But this book doesn’t just heavily feature male characters – the females, too, are equally compelling. Alyneri, a Healer who is betrothed to a Prince, is a fascinating woman and she is written as strong as any of the men, perhaps even more so.
McPhail has wonderfully captured the different areas of her world’s culture and history, creating a mythos that is utterly believable and unique. From the gods that each of a variety of peoples worship to their beliefs in the afterlife, no detail has been left out. Each group of peoples has their own identity specific from others and McPhail handles this with ease.
If I have only one complaint about the book, though, it is this: there are a lot of typos. I understand that editors can be quite expensive (especially for self-published authors), but some of these typos should have been caught with a spell check program. As I previously mentioned, this is a very long book and sometimes these things just get missed, but I think the book would have benefited from another round of editing. These typos do not personally affect my enjoyment of a great story, however.