Where the Black Mountains pierce the sky, they divide the south from the north, Alamir from the kingdom of Belenus. Belenus, the undying master of the north, commanded Keiran – the Captain of the Hosts – to conquer Alamir. But the Captain is deep in conspiracy, and he has his own plans.
The Valley of Decision is a fantasy novel, a saga of slavery, freedom, and choices.
Shannon McDermott is the author of the fantasy novel The Valley of Decision, as well as the futuristic The Last Heir. She has written the Adventures of Christian Holmes, a series of humorous detective novellas, and Beauty of the Lilies and Summer Leaves (Sons of Tryas, I and II).
Shannon lives in the Midwest and enjoys coffee, novels, and history.
THE VALLEY OF DECISION has revived my belief in self-published stories (because that was getting pretty low there for awhile...).
It was very well written and enjoyable and unique, and for the most part well thought out. The story, about the minions of an evil ruler rebelling against him, was intriguing.
The adventure was thrilling, and I was on the edge of my seat throughout, with no idea what was going to happen next. I couldn't predict any of it--it was all new. Which, considering how often I can predict things, is just cool in itself.
The Fay were cool too!
Sometimes I wished it would describe the characters more... It took me awhile to connect with some of them; but when I did I positively loved them.
Keiran was awesome from the start--I loved him. A. LOT.
Cael grew on me and I really liked him.
And as soon as I actually noticed Torradan he quickly became a favorite!
I didn't care much for Jarmith until the very end; it was just hard for me to connect to him because it seemed a little like we were "supposed" to like him, but that I couldn't see a particular reason.
I have a few complaints about this book, but overall I found that none of that mattered--I still loved it a ton and just really enjoyed myself reading it.
So I didn't re-read this, but I've been thinking about it on and off for awhile now and I kind of want to. I gave it a bad review back in the day, and I remember the feelings I had, but I honestly don't really understand them anymore. And I don't think I'd feel them now. This was a really great book, and I really enjoyed it. And if I read it now I know I'd absolutely love. I remember certain vivid things that I really look forward to going back and reading and seeing again. It had something to say that few books do, and I loved it. So I'm back to say I'm sorry, give it five stars, and look forward to reading it again someday. :)
Haven't decided if I should get rid of the old review or not, because I don't mean any of the mean stuff anymore and it's embarrassing. But some of it was nice, and it was my honest opinion at the time. *shrugs*
--------------------------------- Original review from 2014:
This is probably the most stressful book I've ever read. Because of this book I am now in love with Keiran and my heart is broken into a million tiny pieces.
I enjoyed the middle of the book very much and I loved Keiran. A lot. He's awesome. Cael is also great. I really enjoyed most of the conversations. Keiran, Cael and Jarmith have many priceless lines! It was a very interesting story.
But the ending broke my heart it was so sad.
I can not rate this book.
It is one star and it is five stars.
It is wonderful and it is horrible.
It is sad. (There is no “and” this time.)
For an ending like that I should give it one star. But I loved Keiran enough to give it five stars. And it was a really good story. Till the end. It was totally unique. But a total rip-off of The Lord of the Rings. The author has great talent. But it made me cry. The solution of course would be to give it three stars. But the ending is too horrible to be that high. And Keiran is too awesome to be so low. I just can't rate it.
(I know this is a petty dislike but I was very annoyed that it never said “said”. The author seemed extremely scared of the word. The dialog had no taglines. More than once I had to go back and read an entire conversation again because I lost track of who was saying what because all there was was a wall of dialog with no way of knowing who said what without going back to the beginning. I found it frightfully annoying, and I hate it when people complain about stuff like this in their reviews but saying “Keiran said. Cael said. Jarmith said.” wouldn't have hurt.)
Age Appropriate For: 12 and up for violence Best for Ages: 12 and up
I shy away from reading fantasy, much less endorsing it. However, when Shannon asked me to endorse her newest book, I told her I would give it a try. I am so glad I have this excellent book a change and I hope you will to.
Although it can best be classified as fantasy, it does not have the magic and overwhelming darkness that normally comes with the genre. Like Shannon’s other books, she is reclaiming some of the genre’s that are dominated by secular fiction.
This is a tale of strong male friendships that are not girlified. This is a story of a people’s struggle for freedom and survival. This is a story of personal redemption. Valley of Decision it a light allegory of our own lives and struggles.
The characters in this were so well developed. Each had their own personality and way of thinking. In fact, I don’t think I have read a female author who has done such a good job of making two good male leads so different.
The world that Shannon created for this story felt very real. Some fantasy just doesn’t work well because the author didn’t take enough time to world build. Shannon obviously did a lot of work and created a place that feels real.
For those of you who get tired of romance stories, this book also proves to be a nice break from the norm. There are a couple of very minor romantic interests in the story (one of them being a married couple) but that is it.
I highly recommend this book to those who like well written fiction, non-magical fantasy, and stories that inspire.
I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are entirely my own.
A world enslaved by malicious Fay...a rebellion stirring up amidst the very ranks of evil led by the Captain himself...
The plot idea is rare and intense....but the author chose to go with a more quiet, thoughtful approach. Much of the book focuses on character instead of action. Our three main heroes are three very different men who find themselves with the same goal. What we see of the world is interesting, and the villains are chilling. The author's writing, while fairly simple, is quite capable of carrying this story and hides some fine gems.
Still...I feel the author held back. The stakes are high, but for heroes trying to rebel against a more powerful evil...the consequences are surprisingly small. There are hints in the story of how awful this place and villains can be, but they felt very "under control" of the author, and I had trouble connecting with the story when everything on the line wasn't in mortal danger. Don't get me wrong, there were some close calls...just not what I would have expected of such a perilous plot. It was interesting to see the heroes outsmarting and outmaneuvering the bad guys for once!
It's a thoughtful book throughout a dark time, and I found it inspiring for my own stories!
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway, generously given by the author. This book has themes similar to that of The Lord Of The Rings, the idea of good against undeniable evil. The character in the book I found that I could relate to was Cael as he was the character that I would love to be. The book left me with a sense of reading a linguistic fantasy at points, but also left me feeling as though there needs to be a sequel. There was everything that a good fantasy novel needs, it has battles, warriors, brilliant characters. To me there wasn't a clear mentor character which was something that I thought was really good. If you are a lover of what I would call a traditional fantasy such as The Lord of Rings, then this is the book for you.
It's been awhile since I cracked open an honest-to-goodness high fantasy tome, and unfortunately it was a mixed bag. This book's expansive, bold plot is weakened by writing that doesn't quite meet its bold vision, but there are glimmers of greatness to reward the reader who finishes it.
It took me a while to really get into the story: both The Valley of Decision and its short story prequel Sunrise Windows suffer from slow starts. This quiet-before-the-storm approach might have worked if the prose was less perfunctory. Without a strong voice or style, it's weighed down by extraneous details and simplistic sentences, with a heavy reliance on telling the reader how to feel rather than organically inspiring the emotion through the text. Even in the rough patches, though, an occasional gem surprised me. I'd like to see the writer polish her work so that everything shone as brightly as those few and far between moments of wonder she sprinkled in.
Author Shannon McDermott is to be congratulated for finding just the right size for her tale. I gained an appreciation for just how big the world was as the novel progressed, even as I grew more attached to the hopes and dreams of the characters. The best story element involved the Fay, an elvish race who for once felt truly alien. She went beyond current stereotypes and really brought out the danger of these beings, even those one might count as allies. There were echoes of Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, elevating the stakes and the narrative itself.
Once this part of the story began the human characters grow more believable in word and deed. Formerly they behaved more in service to the plot, without a real foundation for their actions (especially the captive-turned-ally Jarmith). Diligent readers who can wade through the clunky exposition and weird character/action moments of the first half will be rewarded by rising tension and a rousing climax. The final battle and the events surrounding it held my attention despite a few missteps, and I was satisfied by the conclusion.
The novel's faith element is subtle but packs a powerful message, and the characters themselves eventually became people I cared about. Had I not been given this book as a review copy, though, I doubt I would have finished it. The poor writing and setup are likely to rob many readers of what might have been a grand adventure.
Full Disclosure: I received an eBook copy from the Prism Book Tour website in exchange for this review.
This is a very intriguing and enjoyable Christian high fantasy leaning toward the heroic. The level of spirituality is Old Testament with potential self-chosen spiritual life change possible—though not common. A relationship with God is virtually unheard of among man but the core of the fay world with which man is intertwined. The world is divided between the half in bondage and slavery to evil and the half seemingly free to make their way toward good and freedom. The fay are immortals placed on the world to make their choice between serving self and power or serving the Eternal.
Mainly, this is an intriguing, exciting epic adventure about finding freedom It is a typical American venture, in other words. It is saved by wonderful characters—both evil and good. The three main characters, Keiran, Caél, and Jarmith, are very different from each other and all wonderful heroes in their own right. The bad guys are extremely evil immortal slavemasters governing their underlings as worthless slaves controlled by fear. Needless to say, the good guys seek to be free of the bad guys—but they want to take all their people with them into freedom.
I missed strong female leads. There really aren’t any, though there are a couple very nice, strong women in the book. This is a manly book, written by a woman, which gives us a different look at the more normal testosterone-driven world of leadership and warriors. These are men it is easy to admire. Even the bad guys are more driven by fear than evil. Only the evil fay leadership is shown as truly evil—consciously denying and rebelling against their creator.
Spiritually, there’s not a lot here But the tale is a solid joy you should read if you like epic fantasy at all. There’s very little romance. This is about a fight to the death for freedom. Read it!
Like most fantasy books I've read, this story is pretty complex. There are lots of names to get used to and figure out where the characters and locations fit. I am a personal fan of lists of characters so I can refer back to it as needed and this book didn't have one (there is, however, a map which I found to be quite helpful). It started out slow to me and took me a while to really become invested. I'm glad I kept reading, though, because once the groundwork was set and the plot picked up, the story became fascinating and I was interested to read what would happen next.
The three main characters are all male: Keiran, Cael and Jarmith. They are all very different from each other and don't agree on everything, but manage to work together to bring freedom to their people. We were able to learn what compelled Keiran to fight for freedom when, in their world, it seemed like an impossibility. Some who appear to be on his side betray him and he has to make some tough choices. He also receives help from places he hadn't counted on. His plan was bold and he knew it would either pay off big or kill him, but it was a chance he was willing to take.
There are some subtle Christian references but this is a book that will appeal to anyone who enjoys reading about the pursuit of freedom. There are lots of moving parts that came together in the end for a satisfying conclusion. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this, and I look forward to reading more from this author!
I received a copy of this book to review. My opinion is 100% my own.
I won this book on Library things in a book give-a-way and am so glad I did. I love to read Christian novels but this was a new twist for me and I am so glad I had the chance to read this. Although I had a good time trying to get the gist of who was who and how they connected I truly enjoyed the story line and the way the story progressed and how the way free will was explained. The characters are strong and it interesting to see the changes they go thru and the awakening, the Captian when he makes his choice, the Second as he voices his opinion and understanding to the Captian, The foreigner who becomes a friend, The Others who offer insight and background support.
This book is a keeper and one I will read again down the line and I am sure I will see something I missed since there are so many layers like an onion. Thanks Shannon for a wonderful, soul searching, funny, gut wrenching journey I will not soon forget.
I won this book through GoodReads first read program.
I am not a big fan of fantasy books but this book has a very good story which kept me interested throughout. Keiran, Cael and Jarmith are the main characters in the book. Keiran is the leader of the army of Belenus and Cael is his right hand man. They capture a spy from Alamir named Jarmith. Jarmith changes their lives. Lots of twists and turns are in store for you as you follow their adventures. A subtle Christian message is woven into the book. I almost wish it would have been less subtle.
This was a pleasant and straightforward story line but with sufficient intrigue and twists and turns to maintain interest. Although a complete story in itself, it lends itself to a series of sequels. The characters are believable and the friendships/relationships between the main players are clearly established. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and particularly suitable for Young Adults, but acceptable to all ages. I look forward to reading more novels from Shannon.
The Valley of Decision is a fast paced, action filled fantasy about slaves who serve their evil master as soldiers. The characters are unforgettable and the plot keeps you wanting more. There is some humor given at much needed times when the moments are getting too solemn. Twists and surprises makes it hard to put this novel down. I look forward to reading more from this author.