Quest hero meets the supernatural

By  Anna-Therese Pierlot, Youth Speak News
  • April 16, 2009
{mosimage}Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword: Book One, The Annals of Aeliana by Eric Reinhold (Creation House, 227 pages, hardcover $17.99).

There is no shortage of quest-oriented books on the market today, each with its own unlikely heroes struggling against all odds to reach their final goal. With Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword, author Eric Reinhold has also entered into this popular realm of adventure and suspense, but with a supernatural twist. 

The story is set in the real-life town of Mount Dora, Fla. On a quiet spring night 12-year-old Ryann is visited by the archangel Gabriel, who gives him the task of finding the “King’s Sword.” Meanwhile, another boy named Drake Dunfellow is chosen by a “dark angel” to stop Ryann at all costs.

With the aid of powerful gifts from their supernatural visitors, both boys find themselves in a world where fact and fantasy come together on a spiritual battlefield in the classic clash of good versus evil.

The story combines the believable and the fantastic with the discovery of Aeliana, a land of heavenly beauty, mythical creatures and talking animals. Here Ryann and his friends must search for the King’s Sword while simultaneously attempting to prevent the new evil that has entered from scarring the innocent world.

{sa 1599792885}The plot is simple and focused. Reinhold provides adequate description and detail throughout the story, but there are moments where it feels as though he hasn’t had time to fully “flesh out” aspects of the plot.

Otherwise, Reinhold manages to bring a certain feel of authenticity to the main characters. He has a talent for using simplicity in his descriptions and his characters to express the importance of basic virtues and provide thought-provoking portrayals of the development of good and evil in the individual characters. For example, he manages to show the progression of evil in Drake, harboured by his bitterness and selfish outlook on the world. Similarly, he shows the contrast of Ryann, who has allowed God into his life by being open to truth and the word of God through his parents and the Bible.

While the quest doesn’t stand out as being particularly original, with one or two elements even giving the impression of being “borrowed” from other works of fiction (such as the Narnia-like concept that little or no time passes on Earth while the children are in Aeliana), the methods used by the characters to reach their goals are relatively unique. Ryann has been given powerful tools from the archangel Gabriel to aid him in completing his task, which he must learn to activate by growing in wisdom and virtue. This interesting twist means that Ryann and the other characters must rely not only on their physical and mental abilities to move forward, but also on the graces and wisdom God provides through Scripture and through wise people in their lives.

For Catholics however, readers and parents may want to be aware that the book is written from a Protestant perspective and does not offer the “complete” Catholic spirituality or faith. Some examples would include the obvious omission of Mary, the pope, the Eucharist, Mass or church teaching in the story, as well as the substitution of a generic “god” for the three persons of the Trinity.

With this in mind, Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword makes an interesting addition to the realm of fantasy and adventure stories, especially for the 11- to 15-year-old age groups.

(Pierlot, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Morell High School in Morell, P.E.I.)

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