Tales of Atlantis (The Dawning of a New Age), by D. M. White
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Are you having a good week so far?
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing Tales of Atlantis (The Dawning of a New Age), by D. M. White.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
The story takes place between Atalantea and present day London, England, with the narrative point of view shifting between Alfred and Shep (two English friends), Hestia (soon to be High Lady of Atalantea), and several other key characters.
Alfred and his old friend Shep embark on a well-planned rowing expedition around the Atlantic. While Alfred is a responsible man who plans ahead, Shep’s character contrasts his strongly, being more laid back and careless, winging everything. The pair’s racing journey comes to an abrupt end as they get caught in a storm and end up in the foreign land of Atalantea, away from everyone and everything they ever knew and loved.
Meanwhile, in Atalantea, there is talk of an ancient prophecy involving a middling (Earth-dweller), with half the population wanting any middlings that show up to be sacrificed, and the other half wanting such a person to live as they believe they could lead Atalantea to rejoin with the true world above. Alongside this prophecy comes a change in leadership, with the daughter of the previous High Lord, Hestia, soon to be named the first ever High Lady of Atalantea. However, a mysterious and cunning man known only as ‘The Paymaster’ seeks to prevent Hestia’s rule, wanting to maintain the old ways of living at all costs. Hestia, aided by a select few, must find a way to survive, to lead Atalantea out of the dark ages, into the light.
Of the various characters involved in this story, I’ve chosen to focus on the following four; Alfred, Shep, Hestia, and The Paymaster.
First, let’s begin with Alfred Lyon. Alfred had long become bored with his ordinary working life, needing a new challenge in his otherwise mundane existence. He seemed a curious individual, who was well organised and a highly efficient planner. Throughout the story, he took the initiative to turn his life around, to prepare everything for the rowing expedition he and his old friend Shep were to embark upon. Even once he found himself washed up in Atalantea, he still did whatever he could to try and find his lost friend Shep, demonstrating his loyalty and steadfastness as a friend. Overall, he was a committed and admirable character, whom I found myself happy to root for.
Shep, on the other hand, was very different to his friend Alfred. He always seemed to be running away from his problems, whereas Alfred seemed to put more effort into solving them. Shep was an irresponsible man at first glance and seemed to ‘wing it’ a lot, particularly when it came to situations that he found boring or challenging in nature. In addition to this, he seemed to be scattered and unreliable, never doing the few things which Alfred asked of him. Once he finds himself in Atalantea, he takes a much more passive approach, never bothering to find Alfred, although he did worry about him a little bit. Instead, Shep was content to lounge about and enjoy the temptations offered to him by those in charge, to keep him complacent. Throughout the story, he seemed little more than a little boy in a man’s body, never showing any true courage. In short, he was a rather disappointing character with not much to admire. Therefore, I didn’t really warm to him.
On the other hand, Hestia, the Lady of the House, was a strong willed and brave young woman. We are first introduced to her when she is dealing with her father’s recent death and discovers that it was likely deliberate. Over the course of the story, we see her inquisitive mind put hard at work as she tries to unravel the mystery of her father’s death, in order to protect her beloved Atalantea from a bleak future. As the late High Lord’s daughter, she demonstrates many qualities which would make her a wonderful leader such as compassion for her people, determination, a strong sense of motivation to do what is right, and a sense of selflessness which makes it hard for her to allow others to get hurt on her behalf. She proved to be a responsible and courageous young woman, who continued to plan and fight for her claim to the throne of Atalantea, despite numerous dangers. As such, she quickly became my favourite character and I found myself on the edge of my seat as I watched her fight for her people.
Finally, we come to the mysterious figure known only as The Paymaster. We don’t get much information on them, other than that they are a man who governs a group of assassins, and has a vested interest in the political goings on of Atalantea. Each occasion we see him, we are shown how he is both cruel and calculating, never one to shy away from talk of murder and deceit, however, he never appears to engage in these acts himself, instead getting others to do his dirty work for him. There were times that I thought I had figured out his identity, however, his true name and face are never revealed so I could never tell if I was right in my guesses. All we come to know for certain is that this man will do absolutely anything to prevent a woman from being crowned High Lady of Atalantea. My question is why?
There was much to love about Tales of Atlantis, the details of which I’ve included below:
- The story is highly imaginative and explores the various political issues of a mythical Atalantea.
- The shifting points of views (of Alfred, Shep, and various Atlanteans) broadened the scope of the story in a wonderful way, allowing the reader to get a true sense of all the main character’s motivations and fears.
- The author uses tension-building masterfully, especially when it came to scenes of giving chase and impending fighting, as with Hestia, Aliz, and the Tridents (Atalantean warriors.)
While reading Tales of Atlantis, I happened upon one quote which summed up a crucial point I feel the author was trying to make.
‘The public requires a powerful leader they can stand behind. A weak leader is worse than no leader at all.’
Throughout the book, Hestia appears to be the best choice of leader for Atalantea, despite the disagreement by many in power who seek to return to the old ways of having only male heirs lead. We see that Hestia’s brother Atallus shares none of her positive traits that would make him an effective or caring leader. As such, this quote works to emphasize how weak leaders such as Attalus can be used as puppets by individuals who lurk within the shadows, hoping to construct governments in their own immoral image.
Overall, Tales of Atlantis proved to be a highly imaginative and thought-provoking read about a mythical society on the brink of a political war. I loved how the story was told and found its characters, for the most part, to be admirable and intriguing.
Themes included religion and political propaganda, power, and friendship.
My Rating: 4 stars.
Recommend to: lovers of mythical fantasy novels, especially those revolving around the legend of Atlantis.
If you enjoy stories with imagined political scandals and challenges for power, then you won’t want to miss this.
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