Media reviews of The Three Powers

  

The Snowmelt River

Book review by Glenda A. Bixler 

I simply cannot begin to give you an adequate overview of The Snowmelt River! It is, for me, undoubtedly the best fantasy novel I've ever read. From the front cover through to the back, Frank P. Ryan has created an epic adventure that just does not stop!

Kathleen Shaunessy had been Alan's first friend when he arrived at his grandfather's home and they soon became closer. Mark and Mo Grimstone are the other two children, who had been adopted, were not really from the same family and hated their stepparents-let's just say readers will too...  Without telling any of the details, soon the four are in a different world and when they wake up they meet Granny Dew...This is one cool lady, or at least I think she is a lady; I'll just add, think spiders...  One of the very cool non-human characters is the Temple Ship, shown on the front cover. The ship was just as the name implied, it was the place of worship and had been there since before any of those alive now had lived; it was deteriorated and not seaworthy, and it was felt that they would have to use just their smaller fishing craft in order to leave. Mark became most intimately involved and learned to love the ship; he was at the wheel most of the time, at one time in an amazing way! In fact, soon it appeared he was giving life back to the ship-for as they proceeded to set sail, the old parts and the body were renewed, new sails formed! That's my one big example of the magic that is happening throughout this book-too much and too cool to share outside of the storyline as it actually occurs!

And wait until you hear the Song of the River! This book is a powerful, outstanding book, dare I say far superior than Harry Potter? It's true, in my opinion! I'm already looking forward to the next book and that doesn't happen often for me. Given my age, I'd have to say the book is suitable for ages 9 to 99! A must-read for Fantasy Lovers.So

 

Catherine Mann - The British Fantasy Society

Four orphaned teenagers meet and become friends in Ireland. When Alan, Kate, Mark and Mo start sharing dreams, Alan's grandfather Padraig suggests it's no coincidence and tells them legends about the local rivers and the otherworldly gate on the summit of a nearby mountain. Mark and Mo's sinister adopted father will soon take them back to England, so they set out to open the gate together while they still can. Pursued by shadows they manage to cross into another world. An unnerving magical woman saves them and gives them gifts that they don't understand. They end up joining a community of bear-like people and travel with them to escape the dark forces that plague the land. Each of the characters faces danger and hard decisions as they try to find the power that has called them to this place.

The Snowmelt River initially feels very traditional. The first section is set in a pastoral, myth-imbued landscape, and a small group of teenaged protagonists become friends and discover magic and other worlds. If you're familiar with fantasy you'll have read this sort of thing before. Once the characters pass out of our world the book takes on a life of its own, the world is very much its own thing, with interesting ideas presented throughout, though the plot doesn't stray far from genre traditions.

The four main characters provide the main points of view. Alan is visibly marked as special, he's the obvious hero and takes on a leadership role whilst learning about his new powers. Mo is the most mystically-inclined of the quartet back in Ireland, so it's no surprise that she turns out to have a powerful destiny. I found Mo to be the most likeable character and to have more interesting motivations than the others. I promise to make no further Narnia analogies, but Mark is the Edmund of the group. It's possible that his snarky observations are meant to be funny, but mostly they just make him unlikeable. His motivation is nuanced and his jealousy largely understandable, but it is no surprise that he is the one who is tempted by the forces of darkness. His plotline is redemptive, but I can't help feeling that I'm not really meant to like Mark, so once he starts doing the right thing I don't warm to him. Kate does surprisingly little to influence the action. Her romantic relationship with Alan is there from the start but doesn't progress, which would be fine if Kate were given something else to do. As it is there's no passion and the relationship isn't treated as important except when Alan wants a hug. There's the suggestion that Kate's role will develop in later volumes, but she's largely overlooked.

The depiction of rural Ireland is full of striking imagery and nostalgia and the fantasy world is given the same treatment, so both places feel realistic. The fantasy elements are introduced through Irish mythology, and although a Gaelic flavour runs through the world building, there is plenty of originality. The mystical earth mother is a common mythical theme, although the character that embodies the idea here is unlike any version I've read before. She's somehow alien and comforting, down-to-earth yet deeply mysterious. She seems to be central to the characters' abilities to access magic, though she remains an intriguing figure. Various races are introduced; the dwarf and witches are fairly familiar, both are given an Irish name and their own culture. The bear-like fisher people of the Olhiyu, with whom the characters travel, are something different. The main characters live with a whole tribe as they travel the eponymous river. Having the characters take a whole community on their quest is unusual, especially when it's one that is so foreign to them, and it makes for an interesting dynamic.

The antagonist is a shadowy, distant Dark Lord who has conquered and corrupted much of the land. He is barely seen in this book, though many of his minions are set against the protagonists and all are as you would expect the forces of darkness to be. There are some characters who are shown to be self-serving rather than evil, but they are still damned by their actions and the reader will have no difficulty in picking out which characters are on which side. This is a book that's very black and white in its morality, and tonally has similarities to the work of Tolkien, even though it has a very different atmosphere. What most surprised me was the way the primary world and its plot threads were left behind so completely. There are easily-identifiable forces of good and evil in Ireland and the connections between the worlds are built up initially, but this build up seemed to lose all significance once the setting changed.

The Snowmelt River is an interesting read with an engaging secondary world. There is little for the reader to chew over once they have finished reading, as the expectation is that any lingering questions will be explained later. It's clearly a first volume and successfully introduces the world, the characters and the tone as well as setting up events for the next volume. It works well as a magical adventure and will appeal to fans of traditional fantasy, and those that fancy some well-crafted escapism.S

tacey Comfort, Booklist on Line

Shelley Marsden in The Irish World newspaper

Frank P Ryan returns to the realms of fantasy with his latest work of fiction, except this time he's exploring the world of teenage/adult fantasy rather than purely adult fantasy.

"It's been a long labor of love, partly because Ryan has been penning several books in the series simultaneously, but utterly worth the wait.  His main characters are brilliantly depicted, as are the weird and wonderful adventures they embark on - it's hard to imagine either teen or adult getting bored by this incredible book.  The cover artwork by renowned artist, Mark Salwowski, is equally impressive - the illustrator has also drawn a series of vignettes of the entertaining characters that people the fantasy series, including Granny Dew, Aine, the Kyra of the Shee, Qwenqwo Cuatzel, Garg warriors and the Temple Ship.

 

Pamela Luke on UK Fantasy Review

Ryan is inventive, the races he peoples his strange world with are not the run of the mill elves and orcs and the magic is more of a spiritual nature than the magic of other fantasy novels I've read...

The enemy is a faceless presence, alien to the land of Tir, his forces are savage and vicious for the sake of it. Considering that our protagonists are children; such savagery is surprisingly brutal as some of them experience it first hand or are witness to it. The author on his website mentions Tolkien, Pullman, C.S. Lewis and Gaiman when he speaks about fantasy, here he has drawn elements that are reminiscent of all these authors and has produced a book that takes us on an fast-paced, action-packed and truly fantastical journey along the Snowmelt River. I would be willing to suspend my disbelief longer to continue the journey as there is more of this tale to be told. 


Annabelle, on Goodreads 

The Snowmelt River is an interesting book that questions the reality of fate and destiny. It stretches the beliefs of the characters, showing them a whole new world, in which they have to question themselves and each other. I loved how the characters grew in this book, it wasn't a tiny invisible change, it was a huge change. It was brilliantly done, the young characters are forced to grow and take on responsibility like never before. They are the chosen and people expect them to act like it. This was a long book, my copy clocking in at just over 700 pages nevertheless the author kept my attention the whole time. I wanted to continue the journey with these characters, I wanted to see them grow and change. I watched them learn and grow into their roles, it was fantastic.

  

The Tower of Bones

 

Luke Riley in Starburst Magazine

It is the detail with which the author writes that is so immersive. The locations have a real sense of authenticitywithin the context of the world they are set in . . . The story is violent, dark . . . Not only is the physicality of the characters and creatures described well but so are the sounds they make, which only heightens the sense of danger . . .  It's refreshing to read a fantasy novel which is relentlessly dar as it is all the more satisfying when something good happens. This is a strong entry to a series and the next entry can't come soon enough.

 

Pamela Luke in Fantasy Book Review

To me, the stories of the two girls Kate and Mo are the most intriguing. There is the hint of goddesses about them already . . . What I think Ryan does really well though are his evil characters. They are brutal and seem to get all the best lines. The pace of the book is ferocious . . . the epic scale and facelessness of evil is Tolkeinesque but I also caught an air of C. S. Lewis.