Review: Warlocks of Evergreen (The Evergreen Journals Book 1) by T.I. Dunsterville

★★★★½ Warlocks of Evergreen: The Evergreen Journals Book I by T.I. Dunsterville

The world of Evergreen is everything its name implies, and more. A living world – a truly living, sentient planet – of beauty and magic.

But there is more to this planet that meets the eye. Settlers begin to experience changes, and lose their interest in leaving as the other races of the strange and beautiful land begin to commune, and even form families together. The planet plunges into war as Paul Rider, a half-human born from colonist and native, starts a great cleansing of non-human species. It falls to sisters Dasimbe and Cierva, as well as their friends, to help Evergreen repel the war-monger and save their way of life. Magic, mystery, romance, and war await in Warlocks of Evergreen by T.I. Dunsterville.

The book is a mix of science-fiction and fantasy as the futuristic Galactic Federal Union spreads humanity and its fellows across the stars, leading to the ancestors of the protagonists Dasimbe and Cierva discovering their new mother planet. An easy comparison would be to James Cameron’s movie Avatar, to which similarities are difficult to completely ignore. The story of an assimilate outsider joining the “native” people (here, not-so-native) against a hostile “alien” (here, not-so-alien) force is as old as time, of course, and drawing on the classic outline is nothing uncommon. But this analogy does little justice in describing the originality of this piece in other areas.

The world is vibrant and alive, standing out as something remarkably real despite its slightly discordant component parts. The writing is very fluent and engaging from the get-go, pushing you along through everything you need to know to enjoy the story in a very natural way throughout. Some characters feel a tad underdeveloped, especially through dialogue, even the prime antagonist Paul Rider whose motivations are far from simple, yet lack enough of a personality to really feel a connection to his madness, and this is at odds with otherwise very strong writing of the world.

Still, Evergreen is a huge, expansive planet that seems ripe for more stories to come out of it, and the author agrees; Warlocks of Evergreen is simply the debut book in the Journals of Evergreen series, itself part of the “Central Information Assessment Module” or “CIAM” universe the author has devised, named after the device used to record the council session Dasimbe attends, and further functions, of course. The author states she even has short stories in the works, which seem extremely fitting for this particular universe, which fits the sprawling tales of war as much as it does more humble yarns.

To pull back to what we already have, however, Warlocks of Evergreen is a solid science-fantasy tale with a strong character focus and a world that truly feels alive, both literally and figuratively and a luscious presentation with its unique cover. It’s a strong first showing from author Dunsterville and leaves those lucky enough to discover this first installment with bated breath for a follow-up.

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Warlocks of Evergreen: The Evergreen Journals Book I

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  • T. I. Dunsterville

    I like this review, or most of it. I do have a couple of author comments:
    1) I have the rough draft of this novel from 2000 in long hand and first entries into computer files in 2002, well before Avatar hit the screens. It seems this world concept has been around for a while!!
    2) It is true that the antagonist, Paul Rider is not well fleshed out in this book. He, his family and cohorts are confronted face to face, in some detail in book III. For those who have read book I, you know that our band of half breeds and one human are on their way to the warlocks’ home and our next adventure takes place there in book II. The true antagonist of book I is: facing and overcoming unexpected events while discovering unknown aspects of oneself and one’s world. In a world such as Evergreen this can be quite challenging.