The Sword of Feimhin by Frank P Ryan

Rating 7.5/10
I do enjoy the inventiveness of the author and the spirituality of the themes in the story.

For those of you who don’t know, this is a story about 4 youngsters living in Ireland (but not all are of Irish nationality) who find themselves going through a portal to another world (Tir) in order to solve the mystery of their parents’ deaths. They have met varied strange creatures and new races along the way. The female warrior Shee can turn into great cats, the Garg sound like pteranodons who can talk. There are also the Olhyiu, who are of bear origin and also the Cill who are amphibian humanoids and in this book are about to become extinct. All of these people have become oppressed by the demonic Tyrant.

The four friends are Alan (the warrior), Kate (Alan’s love interest, she is the healer), Mo who I think is going to turn out to be more powerful than all the other three put together, and her adoptive brother Mark, who has a dark side.

The Sword of Feimhin was until recently in the Bronze Age burial mound of an ancient chieftain. The guardian of the Sword was Alan’s grandfather Padraig and his family for generation after generation. The Sword has to be guarded as it has the power to cause strife and chaos if it falls into the wrong hands. This is exactly what has happened when this story begins, the sword has been taken by the Reverend Grimstone and his ‘church’ and they have also kidnapped Padraig.

Mark and his companion Nan (Nantosuelta, a thousand year old princess from the world of Tir) are now present in this world, Earth, and searching for Padraig and the sword. They follow the trail to London where ‘Razzmatazzers’ run riot and paramilitaries police the streets. The Reverend Grimstone sends out his Skulls (thugs) to victimize those who might criticize his church. There is an atmosphere of menace and foreboding. Into this mix we are introduced to Penny.

I liked Penny, a child genius who runs away from home when her rather Victorian sounding parents want her to go to university at the age of 12. She is able to see patterns in the mundane world that surrounds us that we cannot see. Her street friend Gully thinks that this is some kind of mental disorder. Gully on the other hand, as kind as he appears to be is a bit of a nuisance to Penny who can’t bear to be touched. Little snippets of her life before the events of the book are intriguing and I’d love to know more. In their search for Padraig and the sword Mark and Nan come across Penny who witnesses their unique power and who are in their turn surprised by Penny’s mind.

Of course in a lawless society that London has become under the Reverend Grimstone’s (and the sword’s) influence a resistance movement has grown up. Some are cynical about Mark and Nan’s intentions, others are more willing to believe the evidence of their own eyes, all have suffered pain or loss because of the extreme civil unrest. They have weaponry, motor bikes and ‘Mamma Pig’, an armoured vehicle but not quite a tank. They make appearances in some set action pieces, but Mark and Nan’s powers take centre stage. I would like to have seen a bit more high octane moments involving the ‘Mamma Pig’. Perhaps there will be more for it and the resistance fighters to do in the next volume.

Meanwhile on Tir Alan and Mo plan to take the war to The Tyrant, they travel with an army of Shee , Gargs and Olhyiu and also Magtokk, last survivor of his race and disguised as either an orang-utan (why not) or is invisible. He knows a lot more than he is letting on and it will be interesting to find out whether that is a good thing, you see he is also known as Magtokk the Mischievous! Meanwhile Kate gets herself imprisoned (again – see Tower of Bones) on another plain of existence in an attempt to bring back the Cill from the brink of extinction and to bring the Tree of Life, well, back to life!

The reason I’m giving this volume only 7 and half out of 10 is for 2 reasons. Firstly I’d like to see Kate do more than be imprisoned and running. Fair enough she has now resurrected 2 races, one that was extinct for thousand s of years, the other on the brink of extinction, and it may all turn out to be a huge blow to the Tyrant’s plans, but it might be good to see some of that healing power in the midst of bloodthirsty battle. How would Kate deal with the constant death and destruction of war? Secondly when I read about the ‘Mamma Pig’ and the fact that one of the resistance fighters rode a Harley I thought there would more vehicle chases through the burnt out streets of London a la Mad Max style, but it didn’t come across like that. There will be a lot more for the resistance to do in the next part of the saga, so maybe ‘Mamma Pig’ will have her day.

I do enjoy the inventiveness of the author and the spirituality of the themes in the story, this is all counter balanced by the stark and often brutal violence in some of the scenes which might be a bit too much for some young adults, or maybe my imagination is too visual! However, some of the characters need to be having some great epiphanies about how to use their powers, and fast because Hell has broken loose on Earth and only some divine like powers are going to help.

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