The Pact by Graeme Brown

The Pact by Graeme Brown
Publisher: Burst
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Short Story (48 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Will Lesterall has grown up in the safety of his father’s castle, where tales of the outside world ruled by warring kings and creatures of nightmare have never seemed a threat. Yet on the night celebrating the two hundredth year of the sacred Pact that has kept Fort Lesterall safe, a secret intrigue ripens, and in the course of a few hours Will is confronted with a choice greater than he can comprehend.

Join an unlikely hero as destiny pulls him into the middle of an ancient conflict between fallen gods and ambitious women, one that demands blood, both holy and wicked, and the power of an ancient fire bound in steel. As swords clash below a watching wood, hope and betrayal war as fiercely as fear and valor, and whether he lives of dies, Will Lesterall will never be the same.

Will Lesterall, a ten-year-old boy, has grown up in the sheltered world of his father’s castle, secure in the peace that surrounds him because of the Pact his forefathers forged two hundred years ago. His uncle has told him stories of the real world and how “the world had been a good place once, ruled together by the Seven Races, until a group of men sought to live forever and tried to steal the power from the White God. The ways between worlds were shut and men were left alone in a world of terror and darkness, left to the whims of their fallen lords—beings who rose as bloodthirsty horrors, tyrant rulers of mighty empires who begot creatures that should have never been created.”

Graeme Brown has written an excellent story with a most unlikely hero. I really like Will Lesterall, and I find his actions to be believable and heart-warming. He is “short and fat, with a round, plain face,” and he envies his older brother Robin, who at thirteen has an easy way with the girls. But when the Pact is broken and war breaks out and Will and Robin are dragged off through the tunnels and into the forest, it is Will who has to act. Will isn’t a soldier; he has no training and he can’t climb well or easily. Nevertheless, destiny pulls him into the battle and his actions will determine the future for his land.

It is refreshing to have a hero such as Will, someone who is honest, with a good heart, without any apparent special prowess or abilities. The story is action-packed and moves at a fast pace. Everything is explained, and it all holds together nicely, but personally, I would have liked a longer story so that more depth could have been given to some of the secondary characters. It works well as it is now, but I enjoyed it enough that I was sorry to see it end and I would have liked to know more.

I would recommend this for 12+ even though Will is ten, because there is some graphic violence. I think this would make an excellent choice for classroom discussion. In addition, I found it to be an exciting, well-developed story which I recommend to readers of all ages who love fantasy.

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