Michael J Harvey is a fantasy novelist with a degree in Ancient and Modern History from the University of Leicester and a Masters in Medieval History from the University of Cambridge, blogger adventurer and traveller, his foremost passion is writing. Michael lives in Cambridge, England, with his wife Lucy and two sons.
I met Michael at a writers’ conference in Cambridge on Saturday 4th September 2021, and listened to him talking about how he came to write this high fantasy trilogy. He shared with us how he had created the maps of his world (see worldofastrom.com), about his process of worldbuilding, and his journey towards publication.
Michael did a book-signing at the conference and we bought the trilogy from him then. I particularly loved the book covers, with their glorious colours and sublime landscapes Indeed, one of the outstanding elements of the trilogy is the author’s sharp, detailed and vivid descriptions of the landscape through which his hero and allies travel on their quest.
My Review of Book 1: The Call of the Mountain
This, book 1 in the Oron Amular trilogy, held me captivated after a rather slow start, albeit beautifully written. I always feel with fantasy, the challenge is to build the fantasy world whilst also engaging us in a central character; and I didn’t feel fully engaged with the principal characters until well into the book. Nevertheless all the archetypes of the fantasy journey are here, and the author’s descriptions of the landscape through which the travellers pass are outstanding.
There are several extended scenes of extreme threat and physical peril which are very exciting to read. I began to feel a strong sense of identification with the journey and with the characters of Curillian the king of Maristonia, and Roujeark, his faithful ally. Roujeark as a character is especially intriguing: a gifted young magician and indispensable companion on the journey, who has special powers and a unique connection with Prelan, whom we might call the ‘Supreme Spirit’ or the deity of this narrative. The book ends on a fantastic cliffhanger, and I think we can see parallels in our life journeys here. Onto the next book in the trilogy, which is called ‘Rite of Passage.’
My Review of Book 2: Rite of Passage
In this, the second of the Oron Amular trilogy, our hero King Curillian of Maristonia, and faithful ally, magician Roujeark must complete a vital task which seems to distract them from their great journey, with their entourage, towards the Mountain of Aron Amular. There, the Keeper Kulothiel has prepared a mysterious tournament for the various races of Astrom – men, armists, dwarves and elves among them.
But first Curillian must follow a controversial and dangerous diversion on his journey, to rescue an imprisoned elven princess, before he can continue his quest. The account of the rescue is fascinating, filled with peril and vividly told.
I found this second book very exciting, engaging me on a much deeper level with the multi-dimensional character of Curillian. The narrative gathers momentum, increasing the complexity of the relationships, introducing new characters, and enriching our knowledge of Astrom and the tensions between its various races, together with several different intriguing personalities who come to the fore and challenge our heroes in a variety of ways.
In particular, I find the author’s presentation of the elves and their sometimes contradictory and ambivalent character very striking. The story works on a powerful spiritual level as well as that of a pacy, thrilling yarn. Highly recommended. Now on to the third book!