Heliotrope by Palmer Pickering
I received a physical copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
A masterful story, with incredible magic and loveable characters. Heliotrope is a self-published Sword and Sorcery fantasy that has been carefully woven through the eyes of an endearing protagonist.
Teleo is a retired soldier descended from Mages, who were cast out of power generations ago. After years of war and sorrow, he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life on his farm and work his stonemason’s craft.
His wife and daughter had been murdered during a war raid several years earlier and his young son stolen by the enemy side. He spent years unsuccessfully searching for his son and returned home broken-hearted. At the local castle, he comes upon a war orphan stolen by his side from the enemy and rescues him from abuse, adopting him as his foster son.
Teleo is working as a mason at the castle when he finds himself in the middle of a coup. This launches a journey to protect his new family, uncover the secrets of the ancient ways, and reclaim the magic of the Mages.
Teleo immediately captured my heart, his character often reminded me of a thoughtful and pragmatic father figure who must balance what is best for his foster family while keeping them safe. As the story is told through Teleo’s perspective, we get an in-depth look into his personality, and choices which helped create impactful scenes. With his pragmatic view to life, kind heart and willingness to do what’s right, Teleo made for a compelling character.
It’s no secret that I love the found family trope and this was no exception. Each character felt distinct and their relationships are well built, adding a great dynamic between them. Palmer Pickering beautifully captured a family brought together through circumstance and tested those bonds in unexpected ways.
Overall, I appreciated that the characters growth and their relationships are built in meaningful ways. Through circumstances, action, and time, rather than necessity of the plot.
The story builds as we follow the characters on their journey, with every step bringing new threats and discoveries. Each development from the characters, world, and magic, felt natural to the stories progression with satisfying tie-ins throughout.
Let’s talk about the magic for a moment. Though magic in this world has been outlawed, it still lingers in the blood of the descendants and children’s tales. As a result, the characters know little of magic, and I loved being able to discover the magic system with them. With flying sword fighting mages and those who can weave magic into the world around them, the magic system felt unique and well built.
Now, Heliotrope is a chunky book at 784 pages with a slow burn for pacing. However, the story unfolds in a way that feels incredibly personal with heartwarming and gut-wrenching moments.
I ended up immersion reading the physical copy of the book with the audiobook. George Guidall was the perfect choice of narrator for Teleo, capturing the characters personality and emotions in an effortless performance. From his rich voice, pacing, and tone this felt like a story being told by the fire. I’ll be looking for more audiobooks narrated by Guidall for future reads.
Overall, this was an immersive read, with endearing characters, found family, impactful scenes, compelling magic, and great battle scenes, all while creating a very human experience.
I’d highly recommend Heliotrope for any fantasy reader out there.
Publication: 23 November 2022
Genre: Sword & Sorcery Fantasy