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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Illyia is the second episode in The Feigned Moon of Entiria Epic Serial by E. A. Bagby -- an enjoyable, breezy read for fans of fantasy and science fiction. It's a story filled with adventure that reads well as a standalone novel, which follows Giels as he struggles to adapt to life in his community after a breathtaking, dangerous adventure. Giels has been through many dilemmas, from having to choose between duty and the love of his life to unimaginable setbacks and challenges as he faced the Maze of Azer, built by the gods. His mother’s reassuring words that he will take after her as the storyteller, the greatest that has ever been in Deo, are assuring. But he is surrounded by people who are untrustworthy and friends who will rejoice at his failure more than his success. Can he make peace with the council and take his rightful place as the successor of the tribe’s storyteller or do the gods have another unpleasant surprise for him? But what happens next when he finds himself in the unfettered Entiria, a world controlled by the gods?
Illyia is a beautifully written story told in the first-person narrative, allowing readers a strong feel for the emotions of Giels and his inner world. The relationships are beautifully crafted. From the start, the reader gets a strong understanding of how Giels feels when it comes to Cleo, the woman for whom he has embarked on a dangerous adventure within the machine because he was afraid to lose her to Erikal. This is a novel with a wonderful setting and delves into the importance of storytelling in a tribe. For example, The Journey of Salihandron, a symbolic tale within a tale is open to different interpretations. Readers will enjoy the imaginative cultural setting, the unforgettable characters, and the superb handling of internal conflict. The novel is fast-paced, emotionally engaging, and ends with an invitation for the reader to look forward to the next episode. Science fiction melds with human tradition and fantasy in a world where the gods play dice with mortals and other creatures, offering a delightful treat to readers who enjoy strong settings and well-crafted stories of adventure. What I loved most about E. A. Bagby’s writing is the strength of character. The author creates a protagonist that is broken within himself: he has a strong love interest, a personal dream, and external forces all pulling at him, leading him to a treacherous path.