Monday, September 8, 2014

Blog Tour:Review/Giveaway!! Cephrael's Hand, by Melissa McPhail

 Cephrael's Hand
(A Pattern of Shadow and Light, #1)
Melissa McPhail
Ebook Edition, 654 pages
Outskirts Press, Inc.
September 22, 2010
(4th edition)
Epic Fantasy

Book Synopsis

In Alorin...three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor's brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D'Lacourte's mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he'll have to find him...

In the kingdom of Dannym...the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord...

In the Nadori desert...tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them.

Purchase Links

Ebook Edition, with New Cover

Paperback Edition

Hardcover Edition

Reviewer's Note
I received a paperback copy of this book
from the author, in exchange
for an honest review.

This novel is an incredibly detailed tapestry of characters and events, laid out in a book of truly epic proportions. The various plots are like strands of elae, McPhail's name for the magical energy underlying the universe in her novel, and a totally unique concept in the fantasy genre.

Like a wielder of this energy, McPhail weaves these plots together to create a multi-faceted, yet unified whole. The result makes for some totally fascinating reading!

For me, the three most compelling characters are Ean val Lorian, Prince of the Kingdom of Dannym, Trell of the Tides, who has until recently been in service to the Emir Zafir bin Safwan, and Alyneri d'Giverny, Adept Healer and Duchess of Aracine, who has been, much to her disgust, romantically linked to the very charming Ean. Indeed, these three are the pivotal characters in this monumental tapestry, even though others, like the  Fourth Vestal, Raine D'laCourte, and the Fifth, Bjorn van Gelderan, would seem much more important.

Ean and Trell are both courageous, fierce warriors when the need arises, but are also kind and compassionate, almost to a fault. As for Alyneri, I greatly admire her  determination to travel and live independently, pursuing her own healing interests without interference. However, she can't help but feel an attraction to Ean, although she hotly denies it. A phrase by Shakespeare comes to mind here: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Another wonderful character is the young Truthreader, Tanis. He's very naive because he's still so young; however, he's quick to act when necessary, as when poor Alyneri is almost kidnapped by the very arrogant Ianthe d'Jesune val Rothschen, the Marchioness of Wynne, who has decided that Alyneri is not behaving like a 'proper' young lady. I also love how Tanis hero-worships Prince Ean.

I really must mention Fynnlar val Lorian, Ean's cousin. What a funny character! He provides very witty comic relief throughout the novel; he's proud of his image as an incorrigible rogue, although  this facade hides a heart of gold. It would embarrass him for others to find out, however....

The world-building is just as intricate, and well-thought out, as is the plotting. McPhail's fertile imagination has conjured up a whole collection of creatures and races, beginning with  the Adepts, who are people born with the ability to sense and use one of the strands of the mysterious elae. These magically talented individuals are overseen by Vestals, Adepts entrusted with the enforcement of the rules and activities of the particular strands of elae they are talented in. There are five such strands, so there is a Vestal for each, and each strand embodies a different facet of elae.

Other fascinating creatures are the Drachwyr, who can shapeshift into dragons, the Zanthyrs, who are also shapeshifters that can take different animal forms, Wildlings, Adepts of the third strand, who may or  may not have supernatural abilities, and the formidable,  very intriguing Shades, who seem to be part human, and part machine. There are also beings known as  the Malorin'athgul, created by the Maker (Creator) for the purpose of 'unmaking' the universe at its fringes, even as it continues to expand at its center.

Then there are the races, some of which are loosely based on the races of Earth. For instance, the people of the Akkad Emirates are definitely very similar to Arabs, from their names and lifestyles to their desert gods. Others are clearly similar to Nordic groups such as the Vikings, and there is even a group of islands known as "Jamaii", which is a clear reference to Jamaica, while the Kingdom of Veneisea reminds me of Venice, Italy. There are French references, as well, with a land known as Vienne-Sur-Le-Valle, and some of the characters speak a language strangely akin to French.

McPhail has created her own fascinating mythology, as well, especially with the desert gods. My own favorite is Naiadithine, the Goddess of Water, who takes a special interest in Trell. Cephrael, the Maker's son, has been immortalized in a constellation, named "Cephrael's Hand"; hence the book's title.

The author has included a very helpful glossary, as well as two maps, at the beginning of the book. Also included is a detailed list of all the characters, which also encompasses the gods.

One of the book's most intriguing concepts is that of Balance. This refers to the force of cause and effect that is present in the laws of the universe created by the  author. Adepts are constantly debating how far their magical manipulations can push the strands of elae in one direction or another, before Balance is disrupted, which will have drastic consequences for those working the strands. I see this as a subtle reference to the need for ecological balance in our world.  

The puzzle of the slow disappearance of magic in the realm of Alorin, which encompasses all of the above-named lands and kingdoms, is the novel's main theme. After the Adept Wars, fewer and fewer Adepts are either Returning (a rebirth after death), or coming into their unique talents. Without Adepts to work with elae, Alorin cannot thrive....

Conspiracies and treacheries abound, and Prince Ean is mysteriously important to someone who wants him captured, but for what purpose? And yet, potential assassins surround him.... Meanwhile, the traitor Bjorn must be found, so that he doesn't succeed in whatever nefarious plans he has for Alorin and its people.

This novel is indeed a monumental achievement, a  feat of the imagination! It's a spellbinding journey into a world of perils and wonders, compellingly drawn characters, and even political intrigue. Although at times the action slows down, it then picks up again, and the reader is swept into another mystery, another political intrigue, and the battle of wills between the good and evil characters in the book.

There are so many things to love about this novel!  From the very first pages of the book, the reader is plunged into this world in which the currents of Fate, as well as those of magic, will be sure to propel said reader along, until the final page is turned! Fantasy fans, prepare to be delighted and totally immersed  in  this unique, magical universe!


Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, an avid Fantasy reader, and the author of the award-winning epic fantasy series A Pattern of Shadow & Light.

A long-time student of philosophy, she is passionate about the Fantasy genre because of its inherent philosophical explorations.

An Atlanta, Georgia native, Ms. McPhail now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats.


About the prizes: Who doesn't love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Cephrael’s Hand! Here's what you need to do... 

1.) Enter the Rafflecopter contest 
2.) Leave a comment on my blog

That's it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win--the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Cephrael’s Hand tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!


For the complete tour schedule, 
either click on 
the links above, or on the 
tour company button below!!


  1. Wonderful review for what sounds like a wonderful book!
    Lots of characters not lacking in depth, a complete and deailed new world and a complex plot! It does indeed promise to be an amazing epic fantasy series!
    shantih (at) hotmail (dot) it

    1. Hi, Elisa!

      Thank you so much!! Yes, this is indeed a wonderful book full of great characters, with a very detailed, very believable world! I hope you'll be able to read it soon!!

      Thanks again for the very nice comment!! : )


THIS IS NOW AN AWARD-FREE, AND TAG-FREE BLOG. Thanks for the compliment, though! : )

As of today, 9/23/18, I have permanently enabled comment moderation, due to a sudden rash of SPAM comments. I appreciate your patience!

Thanks for your thoughts on my posts! I always reply here, as well as comment back on your blog. Have a WONDERFUL day!! :)