I was privileged to have a chance to sample a preview copy of Arnon, a fantasy short story to be released next month. The author, J.L. Rowan is an upcoming author with a previous short already in Cross and Cosmos a few months ago.
Rowan pulls us in with a nice tense opening as a peaceful group of people battle for survival. The focus is on a budding leader. Arnon was a common farmer but when tragedy strikes his people, he must step up if they are to have any hope of a future. However even as he feels the weight of responsibility he must also face the reality of his own grief and anger over his own family lost in the battle. It is about the death of a past life and venturing into the unknown with only faith.
For the most part it is a sentimental story about Arnon’s emotional struggle with a couple action sequences mixed in, but most of the fighting happens off stage. Arnon is likeable and easy to relate to as he struggles with his own self-doubts, regrets and grief. Rowan also has some spots of good description.
This is clearly an offshoot of a larger story so although the ending hinted at some really good setups, I felt a little let down because I could see struggles coming but they are saved for another time. I admit that it can be a bit slow in spots, especially compared to the rush of the full battle in the beginning, but I enjoyed the inside look at a leader and culture rising from the ashes of oppression. It reminds me of some of my own legacies and the faith that they must have had.
This story is family friendly with a morally responsible view. The characters believe in a Goddess who guides and cares through a group of large, intelligent cats.
Arnon will be released September 17th. You can find out more and read about Rowan’s world and books at