Amelia, the pragmatic idealist's Reviews > The Eternal Flame

The Eternal Flame by T.A. Barron
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You see this scenario often: the “rite of passage” scenario coupled with the “epic quest.” A world/way of life is threatened – often by larger than life supernatural villains – and the only hope lies in destinies of the unlikeliest characters. There’s something quite extraordinary about the Ordinary Hero: the David Complex, as I like to call it (David vs. Goliath, anyone?) and though in all honesty it’s a scenario we’ve seen countless times (and very likely can predict the outcomes), we still get swept away into the heart-stopping action.

- This was The Eternal Flame. Like I said, the outline of this story is one we’re more than likely familiar with, but the heart of the book manages to keep everything fresh and new. I really don’t want to say a lot about the plot for fear of dropping spoilers... I will say that in the proud tradition of Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Prydain and other classic fantasy works, The Great Tree of Avalon revolves around the transformation of ordinary individuals into extraordinary heroes, complete with vivid, descriptive scenery, detailed backstory, a lush ensemble of characters, and insightful moral truths. Yes, this series is entertaining, but it is so much more than just that – it’s not forgetful, it’s not superficial, it doesn’t leave you feeling strangely empty...it has *substance*.

n a nutshell, the world of Avalon is made of up one great tree: the roots of the tree make up the seven realms, the bark of the tree are the mountains and valleys, and the tips of the branches hold the stars. So it is therefore very possible (and indeed, the goal of the main character) to climb to the stars. As always, careful attention was given to detail!

Each of the principal characters: Tamwyn, Elli, Scree, and Brionna, each have their own perspectives and their own separate missions to complete. Even though Tamwyn is the most important character, I liked how Barron paid attention to the others, as well. I personally would have liked for them to have been reunited or something, since this was the last book—it just felt a little weird that they were all by themselves…but that’s entirely a “me” thing. You don’t have to worry about “flat” characters in the Avalon series, that’s for sure! Well, the villains are flat, but they’re villains, come on!

Ending: I will say that I was a bit…I don’t know, less than amused with the ending. Not ‘disappointed’ or anything. I actually liked the way the story was resolved, it just seemed to end really abruptly. Like, I turned the page, thinking there would be more, but it went to the appendices. I have to admit, I think I blurted out a “what the?!?!” just because I was not expecting that. So the ending of The Eternal Flame definitely could have been better. I guess I’ve just read too many good series endings in the past (Return of the King, The High King, Deathly Hallows, *The Last Freaking Awesome Olympian*) and was expecting too much, maybe. Whatever.
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02/28/2010 page 157
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