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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
One senses just how much B. Muze, author of The Shaman’s Apprentice, enjoyed writing this wonderful story. We enjoy The Shaman’s Apprentice all that much more, not just for its intricate plot line and the emotions stirred in us by the unforgettable characters, but also for how beautifully this story is written. At the center of the plot is Jovai, who doesn’t have a name when the story opens. That, in itself, is an interesting concept i.e. how does any young person feel, whether in the fantasy world of this story, or in today’s world, when he or she is nameless…has no identity, as it were?
The ruling Shaman of Jovai’s tribe, Yaku, concedes to the wishes of the spirits that Jovai become his successor. There’s one problem: Jovai is female; a female Shaman is not pleasing nor acceptable to the tribe. But Yaku must do as the spirits have asked, so Jovai is taken from her family to be raised and taught by the Shaman. Once over her fear of the great Shaman, she proves a willing and very capable student. Jovai develops her mystical powers, listens closely to the sounds of the world around her, sounds the average person never hears, grows into womanhood, and becomes a healer like her master. But when the time comes to now present her to the spirits so she can receive her new Shaman name, Jovai’s world turns upside down. She begins an epic journey that carries her far from her master, her family and tribe. Though now not officially a Shaman, her Shaman-like abilities help her survive abuse, hunger, wild beasts and, even more than once, death.
Does Jovai’s journey end happily? Does she finally become a recognized Shaman? Does she ever get back home? B. Muze takes Jovai and readers into frightening landscapes, brutal and bloody battles, and gory mystical events as readers eagerly turn pages to find out. But while The Shaman’s Apprentice is a mystical, mythical fantasy, it’s also a clever allegory about the possible development of our own world, along with an exploration of current and past attitudes toward gender equality, or even identifying genders, an area very much under discussion nowadays. It’s also a reminder of just how much we miss really hearing and experiencing people and places around us as we rush through our busy lives. As such, it’s impossible to finish The Shaman’s Apprentice and not continue thinking about it. This story is so much more than a brilliantly written fantasy! Those readers who enjoy this book will be pleased to know that The Shaman’s Apprentice is part 1 of Jovai’s story. The continuation will be eagerly welcomed by fans of B. Muze’s writing. Terrific!