The Cliffs of Darad

Fiction - Fantasy - General
157 Pages
Reviewed on 11/22/2022
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Isabella Berdyna Zysk is a self-published author who enjoys a story in which good guys win in the end even if there's a struggle along the way which all don't survive. She's a storyteller at heart and keeps the narrative suitable for both adult and young adult readers. She loves a medieval-like setting in fantasy worlds where knightly chivalry and noble valor are the goal but with access to better hygiene.

Isabella Berdyna Zysk was born in Michigan, raised in southern California and central Virginia, worked and lived in several states and foreign countries, and now resides in Florida where she enjoys her retirement years.

Her interests include the writings of Aleksandra Layland, Ronnda Eileen Henry, Jane Austen and Shakespeare, history, horses, dogs, trees, sustainable farming, and a variety of arts and crafts.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite

Could the overly spoiled Princess Anherad even imagine that her refusal to marry the chieftain of Darad would bring dire consequences? Her father, Prince Ercanbald, threatens to send her to a convent to live a challenging life there for six months instead of participating in a long-time awaited ball season in Kedara where he rules. But Prince Ercanbald must obey the will of King Meginhard and provide Lord Wilfrid, the chieftain of Darad, with a bride from his house and a rich dowry. Thus, he asks his niece, Princess Roswitha, to marry Lord Wilfried instead of Anherad. Roswitha, or Roz, a clever and well-educated young woman, understands that what awaits her is more than just a marriage. There were clashes between Darad and neighboring principalities constituting the Kingdom of Sundara that led to mutual harm and even deaths. Facing the danger of a civil war, King Meginhard decides to forge necessary alliances under the supervision of Prince Ercanbald. The Cliffs of Darad by Isabella Berdyna Zysk is a breathtaking story of love, well-hidden secrets, betrayal, and family values.

I loved every single page of this wonderful novella. It starts with a dramatic scene between Ercanbald and Anherad and is described with sparkling humor by Isabella Berdyna Zysk. The Cliffs of Darad captivates readers' attention from the first chapter and never disappoints till the surprising end of this thrilling story. The author brilliantly crafts the setting for the main events to unfold. She even added a handy map of the Kingdom of Sundara! Also, I appreciated the list of royalties with a brief mention of their mutual connections. I immediately fell in love with the well-developed and reliable characters - the main and the secondary ones. It is impossible to dislike Ercanbald's fatherly figure or an epitome of women's wisdom and tactfulness represented by Roz. As the narrative unfolds, more mysteries and unexpected discoveries come into play, making The Cliffs of Darad so engaging. The main message of the story shows readers the importance of honesty, kindness, respectfulness, and moral duty without a "holier-than-thou" stance. I highly recommend The Cliffs of Darad to fans (especially young ones) of the fantasy genre, historical prose, family drama novels, and even crime thrillers. I would love to read the next installments of The Sundara Tales.

Jennie More

The Cliffs of Darad by Isabella Berdyna Zysk is a story of royalty set in medieval times. It's about the romance, adventures, and alliances that will either build or break the kingdom of Sundara, which includes the principalities of Dhuni, Suma, Kedara, Amra, and the chieftaincy of Darad. There have been frequent intermarriages solely between the Sundara royal family and the Dhuni family. The king determined that this was the cause of the strained relations between the principalities and the chieftaincy. To foster better relations, the king ordered the Prince of Kedara, Prince Ercanbald's daughter, Anherad, to wed Chief Wilfrid of Darad. This marriage and other planned marriages between the principalities and the chieftaincy are to unite the kingdom, but more than weddings unfold. Discussions between the principalities and the chieftaincy reveal deadly secrets that appear to be the true cause of division in the kingdom.

The Cliffs of Darad by Isabella Berdyna Zysk is an entertaining and imaginative novella that provides an insightful perspective on relatable family relations. The female characters like Anherad, Roswitha, and Edelgard figure strongly in the book. Anherad outright refuses an arranged marriage, while Roswitha is willing to sacrifice for the kingdom's good. However, despite Roswitha's submission, she still comes across as the strongest female character, an aspect of the story that I found profound. Edelgard, in her reserved manner, has an effective influence on her husband and, in doing so, positively affects the life of his daughter Anherad. The Cliffs of Darad is a well-researched book with unique, enjoyable, and memorable characters.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

Civil unrest threatens to rear its ugly head within the Kingdom of Sundara. It started as minor skirmishes between the four principalities and the single chiefdom of Darad. Initially, there had been accusations of stealing and plundering, which soon escalated to a few reports of killing. The Sundaran king commanded Prince Ercanbald of Kedara to establish marriage alliances with Suma and Darad. However, the Daradians’ terrible reputation in Kedara causes his daughter to refuse the proposal. Can Ercanbald persuade his niece to marry the Chieftain of Darad instead? Why do the Daradians suspect his intentions? Can Prince Ercanbald serve as the peacekeeper of the realm? Find out in The Cliffs of Darad, a historical fiction novel by Isabella Berdyna Zysk.

Isabella Berdyna Zysk places her story in a medieval setting. Her exquisite writing transported me to a different time and place. Zysk did not overwhelm us with detailed backstories but revealed just enough to keep us interested. Even within this short length, she wove an intricate network of shrewd, calculative politics. Her characters were unforgettable, featuring both greedy, nefarious villains and brave, righteous heroes. Prince Ercanbald and Chief Wilfrid delighted me with their chivalry and kindness. I admired how they treated their intendeds with loving care and respect, paying attention to their needs. I loved that Zysk never portrayed the female characters as damsels in distress. Instead, they were prominent figures, often proving invaluable in undermining a conspiracy or improving the livelihood of their subjects. With nefarious plots, stories of betrayal, and surprising twists, The Cliffs of Darad is a thrilling novel.