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Best of Both Worlds? By John R. Dizon

This review is from: The Binding Returned (Books of Time) (Kindle Edition)

Jeffrey Morrow Miller’s The Binding Returned provides an intriguing excursion into the world of fantasy, taking us into a magical realm reminiscent of George Martin and Tolkien himself. It follows the exploits of Hamish, a young man living in exile from his native realm of C’Holm. Working as a servant at the Beggin Inn, he makes the acquaintance of Navarra and Falkyr, and sets out on a voyage to Silver Lake. There they encounter the Lady of the Silver Lake, who is the object of Falkyr’s vision quest. Only it is Hamish who becomes the Lady’s Chosen One, and she delegates him to fulfill the covenant of the Binding Returned.

Miller’s thematic use of the reclaimed legacy resonates with classicist literature that is symbolic of the more noteworthy works within the genre. Although the so-called `young adult’ literature of the late 20th century focuses on swords and sorcery in conjuring up their own legacy, we find writers such as Tolkien borrowing from traditionalist concepts in establishing a common ground with a wider audience. In Binding, we find the disinherited protagonist having fallen from grace, yet being rediscovered by the Lady of the Silver Lake in reclaiming his rightful place from Falkyr. There is also a romantic interlude with Lady Megan, the adopted heiress of the Lady of the Silver Lake. It all works together as Hamish is able to transcend his lowly position at the tavern, reestablishing himself as the heir apparent. This reminds us of such Biblical themes as Joseph rising from slavery in Egypt to claim his birthright, giving the work a real-world essence as opposed to a Cinderellaesque scenario of having lucked out in finding his fortune.

The conflict approaches as the Lady redefines the vision quest, dispatching them to the City of the Immortals along the Highstone Road. They soon encounter the Path of Earth and the Path of Water, bringing the elemental themes into play as they continue on to Riverseaton and a fateful meeting with the High Mayor. Hamish realizes that his mission is fraught with supernatural perils, yet he knows he is the only one who can establish the juncture between the physical world and the mystical Underworld. Megan becomes Hamish’s inspiration as he enters a realm of sorcery threatening their very lives. Yet he realizes that unlocking its secrets in the key to fulfilling the Promise. The saga reaches its climax as the mysterious Elle confronts Hamish and Megan, revealing the secrets of the netherworld at long last.

This novel is the first installment of Miller’s The Books of Time series, and both its characters, atmosphere and storyline are intriguing enough to have its audience remain eager for more. For both fantasy readers and action/adventure fans alike, The Binding Returned is a worthy addition to their collection.

John R. Dizon is the author of ‘The Standard’ and other novels available at Amazon.

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