Errant Spark by Ronelle Antoinette is a new romantic fantasy novel that both readers and publishers should take note of. The fact that this is a self-published novel is proof that sometimes gems slip through the publishing cracks – but not for long.
The first installment of the Elemental Trials series, the novel Errant Spark is a brilliant start and a pleasant surprise.
The fledgling Battlemage Jex Xander is barely out of his apprenticeship when he arrives at the imperial court of the Kingdom of Egalion alongside his friend and mentor, the High Mage Eryk. The political games molded by social economics between realms, legal prudence, military strategies, and shamefully tactical betrothals are all being played out, and Jex is learning first-hand just how dangerous life in this world can be.
But even the treachery of powerful rulers and the dangers of not knowing who you can trust does not deter the young wizard from testing the waters of both love and lust. When the outspoken Jex finally meets the mysteriously mute Enari Namelum, our hero’s vulnerability comes to light. Imperfect heroes often allow readers to relate to the characters, but when you mix some charismatic qualities with just enough vulnerabilities, it becomes pretty difficult to cheer for anyone else.
What makes Errant Spark so impressive from a literary stance is the smooth dialog and some cleverly developed characters. Archetypical characters of regal nature often tend to speak with an awkward or unnatural cadence to help an author provide the air of royalty. But Antoinette has established a stronger sense of certainty for the readers through a smart cast who speak naturally, allowing the characters to develop through their actions. This, along with a gradual introduction of these characters, allows readers to gradually build their own relationship and trust, which in turn provides a solid sense of reality in this otherwise fantasy world.
Antoinette does have a knack for churning a suspenseful plot with the emotional trial of human interactions. Sure the cast isn’t as massive as some of those found in classic works like Game of Thrones from George R. R. Martin where genealogical outlines are necessary for readers to follow who’s who, but the people are just as complex and the world they live in is well suited for their conniving and cavorting. Rest assured, there is plenty of sex and violence, but not as raw and stabby as the aforementioned works. It’s more like a big kid’s version of a fairy tale.
The story does start out a little slow. But if you stick with it, you will understand why the author takes the gradual approach to bring the reader into the story without being overwhelmed by the complexity. It is also helpful that the magic does not take over the story. The supernatural elements are all well placed and seem necessary for the plot, which is another pleasant surprise from the current trend
Errant Spark by Ronelle Antoinette is a simple story about interesting characters with just enough romance and magic to make it work. The first of hopefully many more adventures, it is doubtful that this series will continue to be produced via self-publications.