The Bahawre Legend by Chris L. Meyers is a charming fantasy tale involving Geoffrey, a newly anointed king under siege from a rival country as well as his own generals. We are also introduced to Gurtie, his devious mother the queen, and Boman, the kingdom’s sensible prime minister who sets out to interrupt a plot against the king, but instead finds himself shipwrecked on a mysterious island.
The novel actually begins with a group of sailors who have been marooned on the same island but long ago. We first follow one sailor, Caedmon, who will later meet Bowman and serve as his guide to the island. Bowman learns that the island is ruled by a cryptic entity known simply as “Putlag” who forbids anyone to ever leave. This presents a major conflict for Bowman since he has a dire need to return home and save his king.
Meyers’ writing seems to gain strength as the novel progresses. He provides sparse physical details, though just enough to give the reader a clear image of the environment and action. He gives special attention to colors, describing an invading army as “a mass of yellow.” Meyers describes a plant on the island as having “peach-colored leaves” with “a dainty, thin-petaled flower which varied from variegated blue/orange to bright-yellow.”
The dialogue flows nicely with each character owning a voice distinctive enough that they can be told apart with few dialogue tags. While there’s a tad too much exposition given through people speaking, especially towards the end, it still doesn’t feel too intrusive or contrived. The intrigue and political maneuvering of some of the characters makes for engaging drama. Meanwhile, the fantasy elements of the novel—sea serpents, magical waterspouts, a lisping dragon—are a part of the plot without taking it over. In other words, you care about the humans just as much as the monsters, which isn’t necessarily easy. My only substantial complaint against The Bahawre Legend is that it feels far too short. The novel ends right where the story really begins to cook. It definitely leaves you wanting more. A lot more. Not the worst complaint to have against any fantasy tale, I guess.