As a child, the winged princess Zintara was forced to flee when a bloody rebellion thrust her nation into war. Now that Zintara has reached adulthood, she seeks revenge. Before she can strike out after the man that killed her family, though, she must contend with a nefarious plot that forces her into exile, where she’s set upon a path that might help her harness the powers of the mysterious Stones of Alu Cemah.
The beginning of ZINTARA AND THE STONES OF ALU CEMAH is disorientingly fast-paced. The surge of action that marks the story’s prologue quickly tumbles into an equally violent first chapter. Between the time skip and the chaos of battle, there’s little time to establish a connection with Zintara as a main character; readers are expected to jump in headfirst without a proper introduction to the network of political allies and relationships that are crucial to Zintara’s story.
Despite the off-putting start, the frantic pacing of ZINTARA AND THE STONES OF ALU CEMAH soon settles. While the period of time between the death of Zintara’s parents and her rise as a deadly warrior is sadly unexplored, the driving forces behind Zintara’s character are well-developed. The central conflict of the story is multi-faceted and complex; Zintara not only wants revenge, she also wants to save her lover, restore her honor, and find acceptance among the people of the human kingdom of Takla. Her goals are rooted in her loneliness, which makes her easy for the reader to sympathize with.
While Zintara may be the central force of the novel, the chapters of ZINTARA AND THE STONES OF ALU CEMAH are told through several different perspectives. The story benefits greatly from the inclusion of chapters centered around characters like H’Marre (the villain’s nephew), Fera Zmal (a seasoned criminal in Takla’s capital city), and Duke Galhuri (an adviser to the queen). The narrative might occasionally stray a little too far from from Zintara’s path, but the side stories in ZINTARA AND THE STONES OF ALU CEMAH are both pleasant and pertinent.
Some might call ZINTARA AND THE STONES OF ALU CEMAH formulaic—and yet, between its brilliant artwork and its fierce female PROTAGONIST, there’s a note of uniqueness hidden among the usual fantasy hallmarks. A more developed beginning and less reliance on dialogue would improve the overall quality of the story’s structure, but as it stands ZINTARA AND THE STONES OF ALU CEMAH is a solid start to what will hopefully be an engaging series for fans of high fantasy.
While ZINTARA AND THE STONES OF ALU CEMAH may not may not strive to make innovations on typical fantasy genre tropes, its colorful art, well-developed character conflict, and compelling use of multiple viewpoints make it a solid first entry in the Zintara universe.
~Stephani Hren for IndieReader