On the surface, The Keeper Chronicles may just be another fairly standard fantasy series. You’ve got elves and dwarves and dragons. There’s a ton of magic and a little bit of romance. There are wise wizards and scheming nobles, fearsome warriors and fleet-footed rangers. The villains are complex and the heroes even more. There’s a really small hawk.
In other words: The Keeper Chronicles brings on all that good stuff you expect from a fantasy epic.
So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what’s hidden underneath the surface, because that’s where it gets proper good. There are plenty of books that give you magic dragons and daring action, but fewer by far are the fantasy books that give you the depth of life you’ll find here.
It’s not about the action and adventure, it’s about people.
In fairness, the people of the story do have adventures, and they end up in the middle of the action more often than not, but the story still manages to be personal. Little details matter just as much as world-shattering threats.
Even so, that’s secondary.
Where this series shines is in how it asks you to think about what it means to be human. It’s not overbearing or blunt, but a natural part of the story. Each book focuses on its own central themes, explores them through the eyes of a magic-wielder in a fantasy world, and in doing so, brings the world to life.
Plenty of parallels can be drawn to issues we face in our everyday lives, but the fantasy aspect isn’t lessened by this – rather the opposite. The story builds from within the characters, establishes a foundation there, and it makes everything around them feel more real.
I love it.
This process of building from within the character is repeated three times over, as each book features a different main character, and tells a different story.
Sure, all three books play out against the same backdrop, and they’re all connected, but again, that’s also secondary. It’s the keepers and their individual tales that mater.
What I’ll whine about
The sense of scale. Reading about Queensland, the place felt rather small, and most locations seemed like they were either just around the corner, or could be reached in a day or two. Perhaps it isn’t that big, but it felt like it ought to be larger.
By comparison, the Roven Sweep felt enormous, and it took weeks for the clan to travel to their summer home in the north. All in all, though, that’s hardly a big issue.
The Life: The realness of the characters and the way they fill the rest of the story and the world with life.
The Themes: Everything in these books support their respective themes, and while this is often clear and present, I never felt like the story hit me over the head with what I was supposed to feel or think.
Supporting characters: It’s not just the main characters that come to life. The supporting cast does too, and they’re a colorful bunch. They’re the ones who had me laughing out loud while walking around town listening to the audiobook.
The bad guys: Each book has its own antagonist, and none of them are bad just for the sake of being bad. They all have their reasons and motivations, and they’re of the kind that can be traced back to something relatable. They’re not villains because they’re evil, but because they couldn’t stand up to their own inner weaknesses.
Depth, substance, dragons.