Ora and the Gem Star by Jack Cowardin
Ora begins her journey as an innocent sixteen-year-old daughter of the local fishing village’s chief—having the liberty to go freely on her way each day, swimming the turquoise lagoon and reveling in the undersea beauty which nature delivers. She suddenly discovers that the Gods have bestowed a powerful Gem Star—a magical gift from the heavens—upon her shoulders, forever changing her destiny. Ora’s Mayan heritage and adventurous spirit inspires her to capture the flashy, fiery ball. She absorbs all the energy and enlightenment it pours forth, setting her life and village into a new direction. In a time when women were of a lower class and denied spiritual participation, Ora breaks these bonds and begins a journey of discovery and adventure, empowerment, and, eventually, leadership to save her people from the scourge and enslavement by the mighty King of the great City of the Gods, Teotihuacan.
When the events of a sudden, terrifying eclipse show young Ora the location of the tiny, yet powerful Gem Star, the sixteen-year-old is suddenly charged with the daunting mission of retrieving the precious jewel – by none other than the gods themselves. Though her subsequent journey is fraught with peril, Ora receives the support of key allies along the way as she strives to prevent the Gem Star from falling into the hands of the ruthless King Chan, who intends to use it to serve his own selfish purposes. With such a grave responsibility resting squarely on her shoulders, Ora must summon a courage she’s never known to protect the fate of the world from the malice of evil hearts. Intriguing, creative, and with a flair for the magical, Ora And The Gem Star is an engaging fantasy tale. Skillfully crafted by author Jack Cowardin, Ora takes the reader on a vicarious journey through a time long since passed, well before the contrived “adventures” of video games, virtual reality, and other modern technological advances. A genuine fantastical thriller, Ora also doubles as an edifying guide to the beliefs, customs, and practices of cultures that thrived and prospered long ago, ultimately helping to foster a deeper appreciation of the cultural folkways and mores that preceded our time. Furthermore, in Ora herself, Cowardin has created a rather admirable heroine, one who rises to the considerable challenge of a task that requires her to step outside of her own comfort zone for the sake of countless others. Such a feat is not an easy one to fulfill – particularly for a sheltered sixteen-year-old unaccustomed to danger and with a nod to grand, sweeping cultural epics, Ora And The Gem Star more than holds its own as an imaginative fantasy tale in the proud tradition of Tolkien and Herbert. A recommended read. http://www.apexreviews.net
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