Cheryl Landmark: Wind and Fire

by Rachel Baker on June 12, 2010

I have recently had the pleasure of reading Cheryl Landmark’s first novel, Wind and Fire.  Despite some technical challenges, this is a very admirable first publication.

The story is set on a fantasy planet called Tellaron, in the year 2310. Our heroine, Tenya, is sold by her step mom to an evil minion of Zardonne, the Demon Master. Zardonne was vanquished by the Mistress of the Wind, came back from the Dark Rift, and then imprisoned her in an ice tower – all this prior to when we pick up the story. As it turns out, the Mistress of the Wind is Tenya’s mother, whom she was led to believe had abandoned her and her father when she was very young. We learn fairly early on that Tenya has terrifying visions and isn’t sure why they happen. After her abduction, Tenya begins her journey to find her mother, learns why she has visions and the extent of her magic, is introduced to her mother’s side of the family, and has to save civilization from the Demon Master.

I’ve given you only a very brief summary of the story.  If I told you more, I’d be giving away some pretty significant spoilers. The only reason I gave you Tenya’s mom as the Mistress of the Wind is because after she gets abducted, she begins to figure this out on her own (fairly early on).

Wind and Fire is a quest story. Think Frodo having to save the world from Sauron.  Wind and Fire is not near as complex as The Lord of the Rings, but there’s the quest, a cast of characters to help Tenya reach her final objective and there’s a trusty sidekick.  Tellaron is like Middle Earth in that Tenya traverses across horrible landscape that is difficult to cross and ultimately could kill her and her campanions.  Tellaron in many ways reminded me of a post-apocalyptic world, not Middle Earth.  Because of this and a reference to “earth,” I made the mistake of thinking Tellaron was set on a future Earth, which distracted me throughout my reading.

Unlike Lord of the Rings, Wind and Fire is a first novel, its only 221 pages long, and it isn’t near as complicated.  I am only using the Lord of the Rings comparison to illustrate the quest aspect.

I found Wind and Fire to be inundated with a bit too many descriptive adjectives that I felt took away from the story.  There was also a bit of inconsistency throughout the book that made me stop and wonder how much editing had been done prior to publication. However, these things did not stop me from enjoying the story…for the story.

Here’s my disclaimer: I had a set of communications about the technical challenges I had with the author.  In the case of Wind and Fire, if I hadn’t discussed it with the author, I’m not sure I would have publicly reviewed the book due to some of the challenges I found, despite liking the story.  The real reason for this review is this:

Newly published authors are worth reading. I get extremely excited when I see potential in a story. I think one would be hard pressed to find a “perfect” first novel, and communicating with an author about his/her first attempt at publication is often not just helpful, but the moment when one knows someone has what it takes – the difference between a writer and an author.  If I get a response of “well, sorry you didn’t like it” versus “thanks for your comments, they are very helpful for the future. I agree with some of it, but here’s what I’m standing firm on and here’s why;” I immediately think “this person could go far if s/he wants to.”  This response is the difference between a writer and an author.

Folks, Cheryl Landmark is an author.  I sincerely look forward to seeing her future publications and if there’s ever a 2nd edition of Wind and Fire, I’d most certainly read it for the pure pleasure of seeing how she, as an author, has evolved.  My hopes for her is she finds someone who can honestly and effectively edit her novels prior to the publication process starting, and she stands firm against editorial changes that she may not agree with in both the pre- “send it to the publishing house” process and the “we are going to publish your book” process.

As stated, Wind and Fire is an admirable first publication. If you can look past some of the editorial challenges, then I recommend checking it out.  I also recommend Wind and Fire if you like a basic fantasy quest story.

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