What do you get when you cross the Aenied, Beowulf, and Xena Warrior Princess? Why, you get Tale of Manaeth, of course, a new work of epic fantasy by Phillip Campbell. I received this book thanks to a tip from Maureen Wittmann and based on her description, I thought it would be a book I would enjoy. Indeed, it was!
At its heart, the tale is fairly uncomplicated. The arrogant king Belthazre of Maruda oppresses the people of the smaller neighboring state of Asylia. Much like the Trojan War cycle, the main conflict of the story arises due to lust and jealousy. When Belthazre demands the beautiful daughter of the Asylian king Ioclus--for no reason other than to provoke his envious wife, Queen Narussa--the Asylians are forced to decide whether to knuckle-under or to fight.
Obviously, there is a fight--multiple fights, in fact. Soon, it is up to young Maneath--also called Manissa--the daughter of Ioclus, to rally the Asylians against the invading Marudans. But how can she, a mere girl, defeat a powerful enemy with only a handful of stalwart men, starving and outnumbered?
Well, if you want to find out, read the book.
Tale of Manaeth is dedicated to St. Joan of Arc, and it's not difficult to see why. While the trope of the woman doing battle and taking down men twice her size is a trite and common one in popular fiction, movies and TV today, it was nearly unheard of in history with rare exceptions. St. Joan was one of those exceptions, of course. That said, the character of Manissa in this story, though a stout fighter, is nonetheless undeniably female and never becomes a mere parody of a man. There is none of the cheesiness here that's often associated with the modern "warrior princess."
So on the whole, I rate this book very highly and recommend it. It is especially good for teenage boys who will appreciate the action and combat. It's a fairly violent book, but the violence is of the epic variety and not gratuitous. The style of the writing is quite different from the typical page-turner prose we often see in modern fiction, so it may take some getting used to, especially for younger readers. But if you enjoy heroic tales of war told with the rhythm and style of the ancient epics, you will most certainly appreciate Tale of Manaeth.
Tale of Manaeth is self-published and is available from the author at http://www.taleofmanaeth.com/