Justyna Plichta-Jendzio's Mistress of Crystals was published in June 2017.

Information about Justyna Plichta-Jendzio:

Justyna Plichta-Jendzio was born in Koszalin (Poland) in 1974, and still resides near there. Married for sixteen years, she is the mother of one son and the happy owner of two spoiled cats. Justyna was lucky to live at the crossroads of two ages, communism and capitalism. When she was fifteen, communism fell in Poland. That time allowed her to see different reality, incomprehensible for future generations. It was also the chance to touch the past and have a glimpse at the remains of nineteenth century life, which survived especially in the Eastern parts of Poland till the end of the 1980's.

Justyna's works are very strongly influenced by her interests. The range of the interest is wide. She is fond of Ancient and Medieval history. She also improves her knowledge of history of the world's two main religions and their influence in societies, global and local policy and the development of civilization. She likes to know cultures that are regarded as exotic, both present and ancient. She is fond of nature and geography. As a writer, Justyna loves to read ancient legends, myths and mysterious stories. All of this is seen in her writing.

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Information about Mistress of Crystals:

The tears of the goddess Mirge must be found.

Thousands of years ago the beings of Naor, forced to stand against Hodgorn, god of darkness, won. Yet evil survived and now the empire prepares for the final battle. Hodgorn is determined to return, conquer, and rule in place of his brother Ulse, god of light. As he gathers his forces, the only hope is Ainara, Mistress of Crystals, a girl with a pure soul, chosen by the gods to rule the power of the Agarniles, the diamond tears, Mirge’s legacy.

Divided between the Elves, Dwarfs, and Humans to safeguard them, the Arganiles must be reunited and the Mistress must harness their power. Supported by a priest, the Pharaoh’s son, two protector warriors, Ainara sets forth on a dangerous quest which will demand sacrifice and all her courage, insight and tenacity.

But as with every human soul, Ainara is not absolutely pure and the Arganiles will not tolerate any evil or imperfection. Ainara is in danger.

A REVIEW OF JUSTYNA PLICHTA-JENDZIO'S MISTRESS OF CRYSTALS

Justyna Plichta-Jendzio's Mistress of Crystals: Chronicles of the Second War of the Gods is a fascinating reading experience for everyone who appreciates epic fantasy fiction with elements ranging from epic fantasy to dark fantasy and sword and sorcery. It's different from many other new fantasy stories, because the author has her own writing style and she has created a story that is told in an old-fashioned way, but features modern elements.

Justyna Plichta-Jendzio is one of the most intriguing fantasy authors I've ever come across, because she writes enjoyable and entertaining fiction that nicely differs from what has been written by many other authors. She has created a complex and vast fantasy world in the vein of classic masters of the genre, and - what's best - she dares to write her own kind of fiction and doesn't imitate anybody. She has a clear vision of what she writes and she delivers good and satisfyingly dark stories.

Mistress of Crystals is a welcome addition to Naor stories, because it's bigger and more complex than its predecessors. The author has succeeded in writing a longer story that is just as good as the previous stories and then some. This novel is one of the most enjoyable fantasy novels I've read this year, because it's an epic story about battle between good and evil, told in an engaging way. It has a classic yet modern feel to it that I find fascinating.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

In the beginning, two men - a human and an elf - are travelling through the forest of Andor. They're messengers who carry a letter of great importance. Their mission could save Naor from doom. Soon they find dismembered and unburied human bodies that are in a state of advanced decay. Eneas, the elf, says that Hodgorn's cult is responsible for the macabre deaths. Soon they're being chased by the terrifying Hagords and only Eneas survives the attack... Hodgorn knows that a time has arrived when his plans could come to fruition. He hears that a human woman, Ainara, has been found, but is guarded by his brother's power. He knows that Ainara has to be dealt with... Ainara and her father, Feyden, are on their way to Engaris, because Feyden has received a letter from the secretary of His Holiness, the Pharaoh. When they arrive there, Ainara doesn't know why they travelled there, but soon she hears that she is the Mistress of Crystals and has a quest to fulfill...

The characterisation is good and works well within the constraints of the story. There's intriguing lightness in the characterisation, because the author doesn't dwell on writing too much about the characters, but uses them to tell the story. In this novel, the author pays a little more attention to characterisation than before, which is good, because it adds fascination to the story.

Ainara is an excellent, three-dimensional and well-created protagonist. She is a strong-willed woman who has feelings and thoughts of her own. Her quest and struggles are vividly brought to life, because she has a lot to learn and much to think about. I liked the author's way of writing about how Ainara's life changed, because she had to take on new responsibilities.

The minor characters - Feyden, Menfer, Kemer, Senoris etc - are all interesting characters, because each of them has a role to play in the story. The evil characters are satisfyingly brutal and ruthless in their machinations. I have to mention that it was especially intriguing to read about Hodgorn, because he is unlike his brother, Ulse, and enjoys the suffering of others. He's an interesting evil god who has turned his eyes to his brother's world and desires it.

The worldbuilding is excellent, because the author reveals bits and pieces about the world and its inhabitants as the story begins to unfold. She leads her readers into a world of darkness, light, wonder and terror. The world of Naor is an astounding place where many races and creatures live and where good and evil constantly fight against each other. In Naor, beauty and goodness are constantly balanced by darkness and cruelty.

The second chapter, which tells of the history of Naor, is satisfyingly epic and impressive. It reminds me a bit of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, because it reveals how Naor was created and how Hodgorn envies Ulse. There's much to like in this chapter, because the author has perfectly envisioned the creation of her fantasy world.

I like the author's depictions of life among rulers, because there's a strict hierarchy that must be followed. Everyone has their own place and must follow certain rules, because it is expected of them. The author explores these issues in a captivating way by writing about how Ainara learns about the codes of conduct and how she behaves among those who have put their trust in her.

It's great that the author explores fluently such issues as destiny, temptation and corruption, because it adds depth to her story. She easily writes about how easily human souls can be corrupted and how humans can be forced to do morally questionable deeds. Darkness has an uncanny way of corrupting souls and even good people can find themselves serving evil.

Although all of the author's previous Naor stories have been epic in nature, Mistress of Crystals has an even more epic feel to it due to the nature of the story. It stands out among other similar works, because it combines dark fantasy and sword and sorcery elements with epic fantasy. It has a slightly Conan-like atmosphere, because it has classic sword and sorcery elements and features mythological elements. When you begin to read this story, you'll notice how much ancient legends, myths and mysterious stories have influenced the author's writing style, because their influence can easily be seen in the story.

I'm sure that the dark and macabre elements of the story will be of interest to readers who like to read entertaining dark fantasy stories, because Justyna Plichta-Jendzio has an eye for dark details that spice up the story. I found these elements fascinating and enjoyed reading about them.

The glossary at the end of this novel is useful to readers, because it can be used to check names and places.

I give this novel five stars on the scale from one to five stars, because I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it satisfyingly different from other new fantasy novels. I look forward to reading the second part of the story (Mistress of Crystals, Volume 1 Part 2), because I want to find out what happens next and how the story develops.

Mistress of Crystals is a strong work of dark epic fantasy from a talented author who seriously needs more attention. Please, invest a bit of time into reading this novel, because it's something a bit different. If this novel evokes a yearning in you to further explore the world of Naor and its various wonders and terrors, I highly recommend taking a look at the author's previous works (Dark Children of Naor, Evil Children of Naor, Cursed Children of Naor, Damned Children of Naor and Servant of the Gods), because they're all worth reading. You won't disappointed by allowing yourself an opportunity to explore the world of Naor, because it's enthralling.

Fascinating and enticing fantasy fiction for adult readers!

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