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The Crystal Scepter Review by Kym ThorpeBy C.S. Lakin
AMG Publishers/Living Ink Books
6815 Shallowford Road
Chattanooga, TN 37421
Some of us never really outgrow fairy tales, and I’m not sure we should. The Gates of Heaven series is a series of fairy tales for adults written by C.S. Lakin. I recently read the fifth book in this series, The Crystal Scepter, and was thrilled to discover a deftly woven fantasy based on an ancient Greek tale but with a unique twist. It’s a retelling of the classic Greek story of Perseus and Medusa, set in a fantasy world in which there are seven gates of heaven. These gates are sacred sites set up to prevent evil from dominating the world of mankind. There are Biblical themes and references, as well as elements from Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. Although this book is fifth in the series, it stands on its own, and I didn’t find it necessary to have read the previous books in order to follow the plotline.
Pythius, a king of Paladya, is determined to find the hidden kingdom of Elysiel where there is a crystal scepter with magical properties. He marries a princess of Elysiel and uses her to gain access to the kingdom. But, his treachery leads to disaster for his own kingdom and a terrible curse on his own life, for a Seer prophesies that Pythius will be killed by his own son. Pythius tries to have his infant murdered, but the queen escapes and sends her baby across the sea in a trunk. The child is found by a humble fisherman who raises him as his own. Years later, the boy Perthin sets off to find his own destiny, responding to a challenge to kill a sea monster that has destroyed his village. Perthin must show courage, honor, and faith as he journeys to a land he thought existed only in his imagination and battles evil forces with the help of heaven’s army. And unwittingly, he fulfills prophecy and finally discovers the truth about his own heritage.
This is truly a spectacular fairy tale written for adults and teens. Those who enjoy allegorical fantasy will be delighted by this exciting and imaginative story with all its twists and turns. I loved it from beginning to end, and turned pages eagerly. I will be passing it on to my teen sons to read next. They are not as dedicated to reading as I am, but do enjoy science fiction and fantasy, and I really think they would enjoy it. Although there are some romantic subplots, it certainly isn’t mushy or sentimental, and it’s clean. My 11-year-old daughter was fascinated by the book cover, and started reading it, but soon agreed with me that it is just a bit too mature for her at this point. The story opens with battle scenes and the plotting of the evil Pythius, so it is not a children’s story. The descriptions of battles and violence may be too much for younger or more sensitive readers, so she will wait a few years to read this. By that time, I intend to own the other books in the series, as I enjoyed it so much and have added C.S.Lakin to my growing list of favorite authors.