An Author's Review

The Long Way by Aaron Redfern

The Long Way by Aaron Redfern
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: May 19, 2012

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Book Description: 
In a move that defies all logic and likelihood, a young boy named Spiff is called upon to carry out the most important quest that has ever been undertaken. His mission drags him headlong across the face of the world, through a veritable pantheon of hardships and threats that are at once chilling and baffling. Along the way he meets dragons and madmen, and learns that the lovable and the monstrous are two sides of the same coin.

Conceived as a darkly whimsical loose retelling of the Tolkien saga, The Long Way poses the question that high fantasy rarely cares to ask: Why?

An Except:

 There were a few moments before things went wrong when all was calm and quiet, a few moments in which he might have stopped to appreciate that there were still things he understood before everything changed—or in which he might have simply turned around and went home. There he was, a small boy on a small path in the middle of a very, very big world into which he was about to be thrown. But he did not know.

It was a beautiful, sunny summer day. The sky beamed down in its happy blue way. The dirt road upon which Spiff traveled was a band of gold stretching across miles and miles of verdant landscape, and the grass to either side was dotted with flowers of every color. He toyed with the ring in his hand, admiring it as he had often admired it on his mother’s finger, knowing that he would probably never see it again. It hummed ever so faintly—rather, it made no sound, but it felt as though it were humming. It was so faint that he only noticed it when he paid close attention, but he marveled at it nonetheless. He wondered if his mother had felt it too.

He did not see the gremlin hiding in the tall grass to his left, and was very surprised when it leapt out, snatched the ring from his fingers, and began running in the opposite direction as fast as its little legs would carry it.

Spiff had never seen a gremlin, but he had heard a great deal about them. There were many boys from the town who liked to go hit gremlins with sticks down by the river on afternoons after they had finished their chores. It was three feet tall and spindly, with long arms and short legs, and a head that was much too large for its body. Its face was flat except for a thin and pointed nose, and was shaped like a radish. Its ears were enormous and triangular, jutting out more than a foot horizontally from either side of its head. Its skin was a dark, grayish shade of green—like snot, the boys with the sticks were fond of saying. In spite of its awkward appearance, it moved very quickly.

Spiff had much to lose. He pursued it.

The Review:

The Long Way” is a story about a ring, a boy, a flying blue mouse and an unbelievable adventure to save the world.  Spiff, an average young boy from an average place finds himself thrust into a fantastic adventure after he is told that he is to return the told to be a torch,( I know, but it will all be explained) Returning the ring is harder than he thinks, because it’s stolen.  Spiff needs to retrieve the ring, with the help of an amazingly intelligent mouse name Euclid- before it’s too late for the world.  And thus the adventure begins.

The Ring- a simple gold ring with a modest emerald -was given to Spiff’s father about 14 years ago by an aged wizard who thought it to be of little magical value. Spiff’s father gave it to his mother as a wedding band. However, as always the case in fantasy worlds, the seemingly mundane is often more important. When it’s time to return the ring, it’s placed in Spiff’s hands. He travels to the wizard with little knowledge of  the ring's value and loses it early in his trek to an ill-tempered Gremlin…. Love it!

 After hearing that his valuable ring was stolen, the wizard is not pleased. However, he equips the young Spiff with three things to help him along on his journey to regain his precious item: a bottomless bag of food, ‘necessities’, and a torch – that isn’t a torch.  HINT.

This is a great YA fantasy adventure filled with Wizards, Gremlins, Goblins and Dragons. Oh My!  The odd couple of Spiff and Euclid journey through different lands filled with escapades and the mystical that will keep even the most avid of fantasy readers enthralled with the fanciful story of the simple protagonist, Spiff;  for a time.

 Although this story is aYA story, much like Tolkien, it has a much deeper message within the adventurous storyline. The dark side, within human nature, raises its ugly head everywhere in this well written story. Mystical healers that are little more than Hoolums and Gangsters, mass murders on killing sprees, even Spiff's fury blue companion, is willing to kill to accomplish their goal. Shocking! 

But todays YA are resilient and smart, they can handle this story and take from it the underlining message. That life is a balancing act, like a scale, we hold both good and evil within . It's from the choices we make that determine on which side we will ultimately fall.

I think Aaron has masterfully brought a story that has all the simplistic of the whimsical, with the understated message of humanity's faults that I think even Tolkien himself, would have been proud to have written.  This is a most excellent read!

Author's Bio

Aaron Redfern has been reading and writing fantasy since a time when he could count his age on his fingers. He went to Williams College and studied English, a language in which he was already proficient, and although he learned almost nothing from the English professors, dead poets and novelists taught him a great deal. While at college, he fell thoroughly in love with New England. He has decided never to leave and currently resides near Northampton, Massachusetts.
Aaron has written three novels, including The Long Way and its sequel, The Forgotten Way. His short-fiction titles include Stories About the Rain and Crawl.

Copyright © 2013 Glynis Rankin