(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)
Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Amazon Rain Forest, by The Planet Forest Champions (Spotify).
Last year, I had the pleasure of reading (and reviewing) the first three stories in The Elephant and Macaw Banner, by Christopher Kastensmidt and I completely loved them. Thus, I am really happy to have the chance of reviewing today, simultaneously with my good friend Leticia Lara from Fantástica Ficción, the next two instalments in the series: An Inauspicious Visit and A Preposterous Plight.
In An Inauspicious Visit, Gerard van Oost and Oludara, the protagonists of these stories, decide to leave behind the comfort they have been enjoying lately to go in search of more adventures. And boy do they find them! In these two novelettes, they will fight new enemies, they will confront new dangers and they will meet new friends while, of course, fighting old enemies, confronting old dangers and meeting old friends once again.
Reading An Inauspicious Visit and A Preposterous Plight was, once again, a complete delight. Kastensmidt does an excellent job of telling new stories but with some recurrent elements that make you feel like you are returning to a well-known, favourite place. For instance, the initial and final paragraphs of all five novelettes share a common motif (always a wild animal just about to interact with a human) and with just a few sentences you are, again, completely immersed in the fascinating universe of The Elephant and Macaw Banner. Also, the beautiful cover illustrations give a unifying feel to all the wonderful series.
And, of course, in these two new stories I had the chance of enjoying, once more, all the elements that I really loved in the three previous ones: excellent prose, fun adventures, intelligent dialog, charming characters, fascinating Brazilian folklore and a wonderful sense of humor. But there is also place for some new surprises, like the final part of An Inauspicious Visit, alternating scenes between Gerard and Oludara, or the smart solution that our protagonists find for the dire situation they face in A Preposterous Plight.
All in all, these are two excellent additions to a series that is quickly becoming my favourite in the genre of sword and sorcery. And the best of it all is that Kastensmidt is really committed to keep the saga growing, with a new instalment called A Tumultuous Convergence coming later this month. If you are not reading The Elephant and Macaw Banner you are missing some of the most entertaining and fun stories out there. Do yourself a favor and start reading them now.