Reviews

Forward Clarion’s review of Three Fugitives

Three Fugitives: Book One of the Six Stones Trilogy 
by Nat HowlerFour Stars (out of Five)

A crop of fantasy writers, apparently inspired by their youthful exposure to Mary Stewart, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Ursula K. Le Guin, and J.R.R. Tolkien, have turned to self-publishing and small presses as an alternative to mainstream publishing, which tends not to take chances on unknown authors. While many of their works are amateurish or poorly written, some authors immediately prove themselves to be professionals and excellent storytellers. Nat Howler sets a good example with his novel, Three Fugitives, the first book in the Six Stones Trilogy. Despite a few typos, Howler delivers a fantasy and adventure tale that will leave readers eager for more.

Thirteen-year-old Orren has spent his entire life living in the pigsties of the merciless Lord Berthus Randolphus. Treated like the swine he cohabitates with, Orren discovers that he is actually the half brother to Lord Berthus. After the dead of Richard, Orren’s protector and servant to Lord Berthus, Orren learns that Lord Berthus has ordered his execution. He escapes his executioners and steals from Lord Berthus one of the fabled six Gwellen, a magical stone that controls the properties of water and can only be handled by someone from the House of Randolphus.

While trying to escape his would-be killers, Orren rescues a creature called a Zhiv, “a head shorter than Orren, and lightly built. His skin was leathery and nut brown. His legs were very long in relation to his torso and they were also thin. His equally thin  arms were even longer than his legs.” Later, he and the Zhiv named Haxel, meet up with a haughty young woman with great knowledge, named Marett. Together these three battle bandits, armies, cults, and magical creatures and become caught up in a war that could destroy their entire world.

Three Fugitives will at first appear to be similar to The Book of Three, the first volume of Alexander’s the Chronicles of Prydain. Both feature youthful male main characters who are raised in poverty and are associated with pigs; both characters are accompanied on their adventures by bizarre creatures; both novels contain the themes of good versus evil. But while Alexander’s works are chiefly for children, Howler’s novel is darker and oriented toward adults. It contains vivid realism as it deals with subjects like poverty, human sacrifice, and war.

Three Fugitives pulls readers into a fantasy realm with action, adventure, and characters that are easy to love. Even though Howler has created a world full of monsters, mayhem, heroes, and heroines, the novel is also a mirror of our own disturbing reality where the borders of good and evil are not clearly defined.

By the Clarion Review

GENRE: Fantasy

Readers’ Praise for Nat Howler’s Three Fugitives

Although fantasy stories are not what I usually read, this story engaged my attention from start to finish.  It moved through an imaginative but credible world  at a rattling good pace.  The swineboy showed his mettle through all these amazing hazards to reach  victory in himself and over his enemies.   The three fugitive characters are a delight.   I would call it a howling good read.

Kathie Bundock – U.K. – Highly recommended read!

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An uplifting and insightful tale about extreme alienation and the tumultuous path to redemption experienced by an abused boy, an orphan girl and a pitifully clumsy and self-doubting goblin.  – Malcolm Monussen, Montreal

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Three Fugitives  kept me hooked.  The pace of my reading met the pace of the chase of Orren and his little posse.  This is a classical tale of friendship, love, mystery, and enchantment with an unpredictable and intricate plot.  –  Dr. C. Rael (writing from St. Petersbrg, Russia)
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This is a well-written adventure, the characters are well-developed and imaginative, and the action and events grip the reader all the way through   The dogged determination of the little swineboy, together with his friends and their allies succeed in overcoming impossible obstacles in some intriguing situations which are so well described that the reader is held in suspense through each one.  Even when wholly deceived by seemingly well-intentioned mentors, the swineboy’s inherent good sense and quickwittedness saved him, and his innate goodness came to the rescue of his faithful friends.
-Wig Riddle, Atlanta
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The Three Fugitivesby fantasy author Nat Howler is an instantly captivating, high quality novel. It is a definite “Page Turner” as I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up. The plot is intriguing and each of the characters have a strong personality of their own, making this a highly entertaining and enjoyable read.

The conflict that runs throughout the novel between Orren with his strong will and fiery determination to succeed on his quest for good, versus his wicked half brother, Lord Berthus, with his extreme passion for evil, gives the reader an in-depth look into human nature and the great power of good vs. evil and love vs. hate. I also especially enjoyed seeing what magical power each of the stones had and am looking forward to the others being revealed as the trilogy unfolds.

I can’t wait to sink my teeth into book two and continue following Orren and his team on their quest for victory! A great read for Fantasy lovers!

–Ms. Thava in India
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Nat Howler’s Three Fugitives is exceptional for anyone who has ever wanted to go on a dangerous adventure, as well as wield a great power.  This is a MUST for every fantasy fanatic.
A lot of it is similar to what I know some of my friends have expressed as what you wish would happen or be able to go on an adventure like it. And when I read the book it actually FELT like I was going on the adventure with them.  I liked that you could almost feel the emotion of the people, and not only the main characters. One thing I noticed, was that the travel time from place to place was a little inconsistent – mainly from the little outlet of land in the first part, then the travel  across the rest of the world. But thats not huge.

In other books to make distinctions between people from different places they often would make up new races or something (elves, dwarves, orcs, etc.) but here, those races have people-like genetic things, and that is really interesting.  I  like the defining of goblins in this book. It’s really kool when there is almost a brand new creature, or re-thinking of something people often assume they know. ( for example in The Lord of The Rings, they re-defined elves from their stereo-typical 2 foot high fairy type things to tall graceful, and able to fight.) You have brought a new idea of what a “goblin” is per say.

My favorite part is where the trio are traveling together and the girl and the goblin are trying to out do each other. At first I was like,” this is stupid”, but as it grew I found it funny, and I have seen something like that actually happen in real life, so I could have a good laugh @ it.

I want to read book 2.  The whole idea of having almost 2 superpowers ( brothers with stones ) fighting, and yet NOT being able to wield their powers at the same time. It is really intriguing too, as to how that would it all end out, and WHAT would actually happen IF they were used at the same time, all we know so far is that it would be really BAD. But if one side or the other would become cornered by the other, they would surely use the stone, in that case it would be back to square one, chasing each other around the place.

—Peter Daniels, Spokane, WA
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Having not read many novels in the genre of the Three Fugitives, it was a rather interesting journey for me. I found the book to be reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in that the characters reminded me of some Tolkein’s famous protagonists. Nat Howler writes in intricate detail, his characters delicately crafted – almost three-dimensional. I gained a true sense of who they were in the opening chapters.

My favourite part of the book was when Richard spoke to Orren on the old man’s deathbed. It showed clearly the type of young man Orren was, a man who hadn’t lost his will to live and who showed his deep sense of loss at the passing of Richard, even though he was forced to live in a pig-sty for most of his life and could very easily have lost all sense of humanness during this torturous time. I believe the author shows a great deal of promise, and readers who liked the Lord of the Rings (of which there are millions, obviously) will do well to take a look at the Three Fugitives by Nat Howler.

Heidi Baugh – Cardiff, Wales

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Three Fugitives fantasy novel and cannot wait to read the next novel. The characters seemed real, as like some people that I have known in my life. From a boy growing into a man, a Zhiv from having no confidence to feeling to having a sense of worth, to the haughty all knowing woman, who always knows best.  My favourite part of the book is when Orren stands up to his two friends and tells them to behave themselves.

The book flowed easily and was well paced. It has left me wanting more.  Where is book number two?  I want to know who the Lady is that Lord Berthus meets and what powers the other stones have.

Paul

Perth, Australia
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This book was engaging, with well portrayed, balanced characters. No character is completely evil, including the antagonist, who is troubled by his father’s hatred of him.  It manages this, as well as the complex relationships between characters, while maintaining a fast pace.

It could be read as an action book or as a deep fantasy with a well developed world and characters. It is different from other books in a few areas. The two most noticeable are the unique way in which non-humans are portrayed and it making the hero growing up among swine sound good, instead of bringing fields of maize to mind (being clichéd, corny).

My favorite part of the book was when Haxel met Orren and notices he looks human, before tentatively asking him if he is human and panicking when he says yes. It was hilarious.

Readers of David Eddings and most other high fantasy novelists would like this as it is similar in many ways.  However, for those who like Tolkien like deep backgrounds it needs a bit more fleshing out, as the book deals little with the history of the world beyond the present era.

I am looking forward to book two and for some of the mysteries, for example, who the lady who appears outside Lord Berthus’s tent is, and for the first of the rest of the stones to be found.

–C. Eival in London

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Written by Nat Dean, Washington D.C.

“The Three Fugitives” is the first novel in a trilogy written by first time author Nat Howler, of a delightfully written fantasy story of good and evil. He draws one in to the world of a teenager, Orren who has been brought up being unwanted and thrown out to live in the swinery to discovering he is actually of royal lineage! Orren, the lonely lad, accompanied by a goblin Haxel whom he stumbles across on his journey, escapes and sets out to overcome the evil that his wicked half-brother wishes to do, in taking over the world.

We follow Orren and Haxel on their travels, together with various other interesting and different people, watching them both grow in their feelings of self-worth and maturity.

Howler contrasts beautifully the good and evil done by the two brothers by their use of magical stones they have in their possession.

Howler leads us through the story in such a way that the fantasy he has woven actually seems vividly real and happening right in front of us! We can, for example, feel the pain and embarrassment that clumsy Haxel goes through, and the pride when he starts appreciating his good qualities.

The strength of character and the goodness that Orren fights his inner self to allow through, throughout the book makes us, the reader, want to take our moral fibre and improve it too.

Nat Howler has written a lovely first book, keeping us constantly in enthrall. It was such a pleasure to read a book that did not have to stoop to using foul language or crudity to get the story going. It can comfortably be enjoyed by all the readers in the house. We look forward to the other two books in the trilogy.
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The exciting adventures of the swineboy, his struggles against overwhelming obstacles was really moving, and the development of his character through these experiences was quite inspiring,.  His ability to learn from his mistakes, and the display of his faithfulness to his friends and the courage that was demanded of a young boy was awesome.  The writing style was good. Is there more to come?”

Kimbu – South Africa – Where is Book 2?
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This book by a first time author was enthralling, and I was surprised by it’s depth of characters, and yet it’s simple story line and world. I felt I got inside the heads of the key players and was rooting for them all the way. It has some interesting lulls, like getting to the end of a feel good book, before it plunges headlong into more threatening adventures.

Typical of a trilogy you are left hanging a little at the end of the book, with many unresolved and imminent events. A fun read, graphic but not sensual – safe for the whole family. I can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy of the Six Stones. Recommend it heartily to all ages.

– Pierre, Atlanta
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Nat Howler’s The Three Fugitives depicts a beautifully spun world of fantasy and adventure that
leaves the reader with baited breath for the coming additions to the series.It is a story of a lost and forlorn boy who discovers the tremendous powers hidden within himself as he uncovers his true identity as the heir of the royal lineage.Accompanied by his quirky friend, they set out on a journey to conquer the powers of evil that threaten to overtake the world.

Among the many themes that are clearly woven throughout this book, the author emphasizes the concept of self-discovery and the appreciation of one’s inherent qualities.Through their journeys, the protagonists, Orren and Haxel, discover their respective self-worth.Orren, of royal blood, spent his life in the misery of the swinery.Under the protective gaze of his mentor, he was given the tools which later help him
discover his true greatness.On the other hand, Haxel, who feels that he is basically a clumsy good-for-nothing, comes to the recognition that everyone possesses their own positive qualities and one just has to learn how to utilize them.

This is a lesson which particularly resonates with our world where so many are struggling to find themselves and their own inner strength.

One unique aspect of The Three Fugitives is the author’s ability to thread into the story much imagery and hidden message.For example, one cannot help but notice the religious Christian imagery evident in the land and people of Thelican.Similarly, the vivid descriptions of settings and background bring alive the scenes of the book and allow the reader’s imagination to perceive the vibrant, imaginary world created by Howler

I believe this book makes a comfortable companion on the shelf with many of the popular fantasy classics such as The Lord of the Rings and The Death Gate Cycle. At the same time as being a entertaining read for young and old alike, it also provides a deep moral lesson desperately needed in our generation.

–J. Yoelli, Jerusalem