Book Review of The Battle Sylph (Sylph, Bk 1)

The Battle Sylph (Sylph, Bk 1)
The Battle Sylph (Sylph, Bk 1)
Author: L. J. McDonald
Genre: Romance
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
reviewed on + 108 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5

I found this novel in the romance section at Borders but it is more of a fantasy story than a paranormal romance. There are romance elements in it, but no more than you would find in a Sharon Shinn novel. I'm really glad it's not a straight forward romance because the main romantic pairing is not what makes this story so interesting. Heyou and Solie provide the framework for a whole host of intriguing characters to get together and form a community (literally called The Community)--a utopia wherein sylphs, men, and women live in equality. They become a kind of rallying point for the others to create change in a world dominated predominantly by sadistic kingdoms in which sylphs are slaves and women second class citizens. But because of their youth and inexperience they must rely on more fascinating and fully developed characters to help them lead. And while Solie and Heyou are cute and innocent, it is the other battle sylphs, their masters, and other more world-savvy folk who provide the true intrigue for me. Another battle sylph, Ril and his master Leon form the most complex and creative relationship that is worth following into the next novel. I'm so glad they were such a powerful element in this first novel as it made L. J. McDonald's world more 3-dimensional to me and drew me toward reading the next novel in the series and each successive story thereafter. Had the author spent less pages developing her well-crafted secondary characters I would not have liked this novel so much. Solie and Heyou were just not that interesting on their own--a fact which I think is on purpose. After they get together, the focus of the story shifts to the other, more dynamic, characters.

And really this novel is a set up novel for more complex stories to follow. Solie and Heyou are likable clean palettes upon which is built a new era where sylphs, men, and women are all equal and interdependent upon one another. Their story had to be told so that Ril and other damaged sylphs could have their happy endings in later books. (Mace's story will be told later this year in an anthology called A Midwinter Fantasy which has yet to be assigned an ISBN number and will include work by Leanna Renee Hieber--Yay!)

I definitely recommend this book but only if you like well-written fantasy novels with some romance. There isn't very much sex and though Solie and Heyou are the glue which bind all the other characters together, their relationship isn't the main strength of this story. My definition of a romance novel includes the hero and heroine as the main interest of the plot. But Solie and Heyou take back seat to several more intriguing and dynamic characters and I am happy to let them. This is not a typical romance story and the book is better for that.