Vyrkarion: The Talisman Of Anor

by J. A. Cullum

Reviewed by Adam Armstrong

When you think of the word Wizard an image of an old man with long white hair, a long white beard, a long cloak (generally with stars on it), and a staff of some sort comes to mind. I'm not sure why this image is so engrained. Names such as Merlin, Gandalf, and now Harry Potter are attached with the term. But wizardry could be something that you are born with and could apply to any race, or gender.

Vyrkarion is a living crystal granting immense power to the wizard that wields it. The only problem is that the most powerful human wizards are all male and Vyrkarion only works with female wizards. The guardian of the crystal is gravely wounded but a chance meeting with Alanna Cairan, the Tamrai of Fell, lands the crystal in her hands. Alanna is a healer who has the potential to be a great wizard if she receives the proper training. Unfortunately, the most powerful human wizard, Jerevan Rayne, the Wizard of Leybrun, is wounded in a battle with some of the Isklarin (were-lizards) wizards. Right off the bat we are introduced to people with confusing names and titles that are used interchangeably. All the major characters seem to have this problem and it does wear on the reader over time.

At the same time, a half god, half mad king, Rhys Cinnac, is making his way toward Ninkarrak, the capitol, where it is prophesied the current king will die and Rhys will take over. The king's son, the crippled Aubrey, is destined to become the most powerful wizard. But there is a plot to take him out before he has a chance to grow into his power and even his closest guards are in on it. 

Jerevan heals, but Alanna refuses his training because he has a bad reputation and she is a noblewoman. She gets kidnapped by Aavik, the evil wizard of the Isklarin, and rescued by Jerevan. Only after that does she start to trust him and the two begin their long, arduous, and boring (for the reader and apparently the characters) training sessions. Jerevan tells Alanna that they can link using Vyrkarion, increasing her powers quickly, but the link will be forever and the weaker wizard could be swallowed by the stronger. But they may have no choice as the plot to kill the king and his son goes into motion and Rhys is making his way toward Ninkarrak.

Wizard is a unisex word but it seems like there should be a word for female wizard like there is a word for male witch--enchantress, maybe? We are hit with the word wizard too much from the get go. Their powers are never clearly defined and they seem to be able to do whatever the plot needs them to at the moment. The main power they have seems to be shooting "lasers" at one another and then either dying or falling unconscious, either of which seems to be a huge problem in the heat of battle. The wizards in this novel keep falling over like fainting goats and it makes me wonder why someone doesn't just walk up and stab them in the face when they are unconscious. Also the energy battles are just as boring as the ones seen in the Harry Potter movies where they just kind of stand there and wait for someone to win.

There seems to be little bursts of action--that really don't contain that much action--followed by long passages of boringness. Alanna is rescued by Jerevan, whom she has a strong attraction to, and then she spends the next few months memorizing wizard oaths, concentrating on candles, and learning telepathy that she can't really do, so she is just thinking…One of the other love stories is between Minta, Aubrey's wet-nurse, and Thrym a were-lizard that is a good guy because he says so. She meets him when he sneaks into her room and is evasive as to why he broke in (he is a thief). Nothing like completely trusting and falling in love with one of your enemies as they are breaking into your room, stealing stuff.

The most interesting romantic subplot was between Elath and Fal, two mercenaries hired to help the wizards. Fal is mutilated while helping the wizards and Elath sticks by his side. These seemed to be the only two that were in love that weren't physically beautiful. They both had flaws and had to struggle more than the rest of the characters, yet they weren't really given much exploration. 

Overall the book was predictable and a bit stale. It's appropriate for the YA crowd, giving them something to read other than vampire novels. If you are a fan of the series or if you are looking for a mild romance/fantasy, Vyrkarion will fill that need. But if you want something original you may want to skip this one.