Durren Flintrand and his three questing team members, Tia, Arein, and Hule have just been promoted to Level Two in their studies at the Black River Academy. In The Black River Chronicles, by David Tallerman, their reward has come for unmasking and defeating a creature thought wiped out centuries ago – a shapeshifter. Rather than basking in the glory of their achievement, the team find themselves unceremoniously transferred to a sister school, the Shadow Mountain Academy, on a student exchange, where they quickly discover things are run very differently at this Academy. Why were they transferred and what secrets is Tia holding out on her friends with? Durren realizes the mysterious and unpredictable Tia is acting even stranger than usual, but he’s loathe to broach the subject knowing her quick temper and sometime violent nature. What is the secret of Ursvaal and what can the quartet do to solve the problems facing the region?
Described as a Young Adult adventure, The Black River Chronicles is a fast-paced story that never lets the reader take a breath, as the characters move from one exciting encounter to the next. I think this book may also be described as an RPG (Role Playing Game) story and although I’ve never been a great gamer, even I could recognize the standard RPG characters; Durren (The Hunter/Scout), Arein (The Mage/Wizard/Healer), Hule (The Fighter/Brute) and Tia (The clever rogue or scoundrel, who nobody really knows what she is capable of), as well, of course, that of the Big Boss, who must be defeated at the end of the game. I think this book would appeal greatly to those interested in fantasy adventures. The characters are well defined and the action fast and furious. Certainly, I found the story impossible to put down and it kept me turning pages well into the night. An excellent novel and one that is clearly the basis for a series involving these young students. Highly recommended!