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Medalon: Book One of the Hythrun Chronicles
Jennifer Fallon
Tor, 428 pages

Jennifer Fallon
Jennifer Fallon was born in Carlton (a suburb of Melbourne, Australia). She lived in and around Canberra for about 8 years and has lived in the Northern Territory since 1980 in Alice Springs. She has worked as a youth worker, a store detective, shop assistant, an advertising sales rep and executive secretary, among other things. She is currently the National Sales Manager for Australia and is based in Melbourne temporarily. Her first series, The Demon Child Trilogy, was released in August 2000.

Jennifer Fallon Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

In her native Australia, Jennifer Fallon is a queen of the fantasy genre -- maybe even one of its goddesses, with a devoted following of legions of fans and thousands of women fiercely in love with characters like Damin Wolfblade, one of fantasyland's quintessential heroes (so much so that the demand spawned a whole new trilogy about Wolfblade personally, set in the universe in which Medalon, Fallon's first book, takes place).I have no doubt that there are fantasy fans in the United States, where Medalon just received its first publication in hardcover, just waiting to join those legions.

In Australia, Medalon was the opening salvo of what is known as The Demon Child Trilogy. It is this Demon Child with whom this particular segment of the series is concerned -- a being born of a union between a human woman and a king of the Harshini, a semi-mythical elf-like magical race with demon-taming potential. Keeping to true fantasy tropes, this lost child has no inkling of her true identity as the book opens -- and neither, apparently, has the only other half-Harshini character, Brak, sent by the rest of the Harshini and the Gods (who have a somewhat disconcerting ability to waltz in and out of human senses) to seek the demon child and bring it back to the Harshini Sanctuary where there is a large and somewhat fraught destiny waiting.

This is the first book of a series, and perhaps it is to be expected that it raises more questions than it wants to answer just yet -- but I did find myself a little hazy on just how one half-Harshini character differed from the other and why Brak didn't have at least the potential for being the demon child himself. Add to that his somewhat blundering attempts to locate that child, only to discover that her identity and whereabouts had more or less been known to the Gods all along, and Brak's role in the storyline becomes a little moot. Although I get the distinct sense that there are secrets in his past which still have a role to play in the future, I did have to wonder what his purpose was in the current dramatic developments. His Gods are less than helpful when he himself confronts them with this issue -- they tell him, in a fine example of god-like non-sequitur which leaves itself open to a hundred interpretations, that the weapon that was the demon child had to be "tempered" before it was used, therefore implying that Brak's presence was essential not in the discovery of the child in question but in her preparation for what lies in store for her.

The demon child herself, R'Shiel, is a wonderful protagonist -- and I would guess more "tempering" is in store for her in the books to come. As a fellow writer of fantasy, I think I share with Jennifer Fallon the distinct danger that the characters we bring to life and then put through their own special hells in order to be "tempered" enough for our purposes might lie in wait for us in some lonely alley on some dark night with thoughts of revenge; it is unfortunate that we have taught so many of those characters to be so lethal with weapons of every shape and form. I think an opportunity has been missed in Medalon, where such proficiency with weapons and strange powers is concerned, in the somewhat perfunctory account of R'Shiel's night of coming to terms with her new identity as the demon child, and the kind of havoc that can wreak. There's a throwaway sentence in there somewhere of a stray lightning bolt flung by R'Shiel's untrained mind which incinerates an unlucky ship that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time -- I would have loved to have been "shown" that scene (and R'Shiel's reaction to it) in more detail.

If I have quibbles, they're minor. It is a moot point, for instance, whether Jennifer Fallon ever encountered a particularly odd party game called Jenga before she called her Lord Defender that, but I have, and it tends to trip me up every time he steps out onto center stage -- she is, however, in august company with this kind of thing, and Lord Defender Palin Jenga is no worse than a spare-part King called Aileron in Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar trilogy). I do have to take issue with Jennifer Fallon's assertion, right at the end of the book, that R'Shiel "finally knew who she was." No, she didn't. She finally knew what she was, which is a horse of a very different colour. Learning who she is will take her the rest of her life, as such lessons do with most of us out here in real life.

Medalon is a deep draught from the well of classic High Fantasy -- and there are many readers out there waiting for their thirst to be quenched. I predict that Fallon will be a household name very soon, and not just Down Under.

Copyright © 2004 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Following her successful two-volume fantasy series, Changer of Days, her latest novel, Jin-shei, is due out from Harper San Francisco in the spring of 2004.

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