"Rannon" is a fascinating book to read. Written by Ron Trumbla in the 1970s, it has only recently been published as a memorial by his family after his passing in 2014. I say it's fascinating because it is a fantasy novel that is unabashedly a product of its time. This means that it is steeped in influences no newer than, say, Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea or Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber; when reading it, you will probably be more likely to flash on Gulliver's Travels or Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books. Also, it is the first outing of a man who may have turned into a polished author if he had chosen that path, but clearly this is an early effort for him. I'm not telling you this just to name-drop older authors and make excuses, but to frame the experience should you decide to give the book a try. And I think you should.

Rannon, the titular character, is a 13 year old boy chosen for a great purpose by gods who are prohibited from more directly taken a hand (this is no spoiler; it is laid out more or less in the first few pages). A war-torn kingdom is further threatened by an evil entity that seems to have no purpose other than destruction. The boy will rise up from obscurity and be recognized by those with power and wisdom for what he truly is, but victory is not certain with his coming, only possible where once all seemed lost. The setup is a "classic" fantasy premise, but again I find this interesting because Rannon is a direct product of its time, not some retro assignment from a writing workshop. Imagine finding a manuscript from an unknown contemporary of Mozart and Salieri. Certainly there's a reason this man had a day job, but his novel is an earnest effort by a man who knew something of his craft.

If I seem to be hedging with my praise, it's only because I want to be clear what this book is and what it is not. Mr. Trumbla did not have the benefit of years of professional criticism to help him revise and tighten his story. The manuscript was edited for publication, yes, but that seems to be a work of love by his family. (Mrs. Trumbla did an admirable job, in my opinion - technically the work is mostly free of the sorts of novice errors one might expect in a self-published book. "Rannon" is a clean manuscript.) If you are enough of a fan of the fantasy genre that you enjoy exploring many different authors just to experience many different points of view, I think Mr. Trumbla had something valuable to offer you, and you'll be glad that his family chose to memorialize him in this way.

~review by Patricia Mullen

Author: Ron Trumbla
Dog Ear Publishing, 2017
pp. 243, $12.99

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