Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient, by JoAnn Arnold is a delightful read. For anyone who enjoys a fantasy that is so fantastical that once read, you feel as though you’ve just awakened from a dream—this is the book for you. It’s full of interesting creatures, fantasy kingdoms, time travel (yes), and a well planned war against good and evil.
The imagination is unleashed as Etcheon learns who he is and of the responsibilities that lay ahead for him. It’s only after his Granna Fela dies that Etcheon’s true identity as a prince is revealed to him. He is sent from one realm, one era to another in order to complete the necessary training. Etcheon’s ultimate goal is to free his parents and save his people from death. To do that, he must best the evil wizard, Ancitel, and overthrow the corrupted King Yiltor.
It’s no simple task, to be sure, but Prince Etcheon is not alone in his quest. Those guiding him are as old as creation itself, and wise enough to know better than to let Etcheon’s branches of knowledge grow faster and stronger than his roots of wisdom for fear the whole shall become corrupted—they guide and nurture him in the things they must, and let him discover the rest on his own.
Prince Etcheon’s legion of helpers include an eagle who can change size, a panther, a horse that can race so fast he becomes an invisible blur, an owl, a two headed lamb, and an ancient tree. He also has the help and loyalty of a good wizard and a village of small folk. To Etcheon, time is irrelevant as these creatures share their knowledge and prepare him for his destiny. As he is taught, we as readers learn beads of wisdom that resonate in their truth, and we feel refreshed because of the experience.
Although numbers-wise the odds are against Prince Etcheon and his small band of warriors in their fight against the wealthy King Yiltor, the two evil men learn too late that the odds were a little better matched than they had anticipated.
Of course, when two evil men come together—they can never truly trust each other, which is the case between Ancitel and Yiltor. The evil wizard Ancitel wants to capture Prince Etcheon and gain all, including Yiltor’s kingdom and Etcheon’s timepiece. King Yiltor uses Ancitel to the best of his ability in his quest to gain control of all the surrounding kingdoms and therefore gain control of all the riches, and afterwards he hopes to be rid of the evil wizard.
I often call fantasy novels “mind candy” because they’re enjoyable to read, but with little substance. This novel offers more than empty calories—perhaps it’s more like a Snickers bar or a PayDay. It’s fun to read, but resonates throughout with truths regarding good and evil, and at the end of the day, it’s a little more satisfying.