January 7, 2011

Review: The Talisman of Elam by Jim Mastro

The Talisman of Elam
Author: Jim Mastro
Publisher: New Paradigm Publications
Series: The Children of Hathor, Book 1
ISBN: 0982767323
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Novel provided by the author for a honest review.

For more information please visit Jim Mastro's website.

When twelve-year-old Jason Hunter and his two friends discover a spaceship buried in the woods behind his New Hampshire home, his world is turned upside down. Suddenly, he finds himself fleeing the Earth on a desperate mission to save his abducted parents and prevent an alien invasion. The journey takes him halfway across the galaxy, where he must confront bizarre and deadly creatures, escape from a toxic region of space called the Vuhndalac Pit, and evade capture by a powerful alien leader intent on destroying him. Hidden somewhere among the stars is an ancient talisman that Jason must find before it is too late. If he is the Heir of Elam, the one person in the entire universe who can claim this talisman, he will be able to save his parents, and his planet. If he is not, touching it will be the last thing he ever does!

The Talisman of Elam is the first book in the epic science fiction/adventure trilogy, The Children of Hathor. Eons ago, great forces were set in motion by an extinct race whose technology was so advanced that even now the pieces that remain seem to operate as if by magic. Jason Hunter finds himself at the center of a gathering storm that threatens all humanoid civilization in the galaxy. He may be all that stands between humanity and destruction, or he may be the unwitting agent of that destruction!


The Talisman of Elam, the debut novel in Jim Mastro's Children of Hathor trilogy, is a fun action filled sci-fi adventure that had me hooked from the first paragraph. With wonderful characters, a thrilling non-stop plot line, and a universe filled with possibilities fans of 'Harry Potter' will love this book!

Much like in the famous wizarding series, this novel follows a young group of friends as they get dragged into an intergalactic plot to steal not only the Earth, but the council that governs the universe as well. The unique premise is what instantly grabbed my attention. Yet, with any novel focusing on 12 year olds you have to worry that they won't be all that highly developed, or that the plot would end up being merely cheesy. In this case, have no fear because the plot, the characters and the worlds housed within these pages are all wonderfully developed.

From the first paragraph this novel really drew me in. The quirky characters reminding me of old sci-fi movies about alien invasions with amusingly odd beings lurking around in neighborhoods studying the 'locals'. But, it doesn't stay amusingly mundane for long, instead becoming a roller coaster adventure as the harrowing adolescents are thrust into a battle to save the Earth, the universe and Jason's parents. The worlds the group visit are all wonderfully built, from a brief overview of the history of the planets and its inhabitants to the lush descriptions that bring the settings to life. The creativity and easily imagined locales really add an aspect  I hadn't counted on giving it a greater depth and believability. The premise itself is never veered from, the focus of the novel never shifting randomly to focus on alternate planets or other random and meaningless topics. This was also something I rather enjoyed because it would have been all but too easy to have the story drift leaving much of the plot forgotten. Instead, you taken from point A to point B and beyond as the characters methodically accomplish their goals. That's not to say that there aren't a lot of the unexpected situations the group must persevere through because it's these unforeseen situations that helps to keep the reader on their toes.

The characters themselves are all nicely developed as well, but the true enjoyment comes from the ensemble and not merely the individuals. Their emotions, thoughts and fears are all wonderfully explored as they grow and learn to push the boundaries of what they consider to be possible. The companionable bond between them gives the novel a nice air of camaraderie and trust, the group supporting the individuals helping them all to overcome immeasurable and impossible odds. In truth, their relationship is a bright spot in the otherwise dark situations they find themselves in, the connection giving strength and will when they otherwise would have none. I also have to love the individual quirks of the group and how these 'talents' help aid the troop on their journey. For instance, Kevin is an admitted nerd who loves video games, especially those that simulate flight. Without this particular skill, the group would not have been able to easily pilot the ship through unbelievable odds. Or Amelia and her gift of languages, without which the explorers would often be stuck in dire circumstances. Without a doubt the ensemble cast all play their roles in the plot, helping in their own ways to aid Jason in his quest for the Amulon Talic.

Over all this novel was masterfully written with a nice mix of perspective, atmosphere, characterization and adventure. The plot development and growth of the characters is simply first rate with a fast paced plot that keeps you reading, wanting to know what will happen next.  I for one will definitely be eagerly awaiting the next installment, The Hand of Osiris.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

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