Ikarie – science fiction monthly no. 7, 1993, p. 58
Review of the first book of the series “Wetemaa – The Book of the Fate of the Eleven Companion of King Gudleifer”. The book won the Golden Icarus Prize for the best Czech Fantasy of 1993
King Gudleifer and his Loyal Friends
King Gudleifer has problems. The kingdom is divided into two parts and the neighbouring king will not hear a word about its unification. Constant strife is weakening the kingdom and Gudleifr himself cannot lead his forces into battle, because his legs, although well formed, are paralysed. Yet he does not despair, for in the book of fate known as the Wetemaa it is written that when eleven selected warriors gather at his court, the next empty pages of the book will be filled and the time for great deeds will have come.
The king is waiting. His retinue of elect knights will soon ride to his service.
A. Andres’s book Wetemaa is a classic fantasy of the Sword and Magic type – a saga narrated by the chronicler Ceredig the Navigator, who has compiled it from the recollections of the heroes and his own memories. The first part of the narrative is devoted to the fortunes and live stories of the eleven heroes up to their arrival at the king’s court. Each is under the protection of a different god or goddess of the Land of Ellad. The second part might be called Destiny Fulfilled and relates the adventures of the members of the royal company as they accomplish the tasks allotted to them by fate and finally take part in the war for the kingdom.
The novel chronicle provides the reader with a map and glossary of the Old Tongue. As the debut of a very young author, Wetemaa is in my view an exceptional achievement. The author strives to sustain an archaic style (as far as is compatible with readability and pace), and while the mythology created is based on Nordic models, it is highly individual and original and deserves recognition. Of course the reader will notice some rather incongruous modern idioms, but they do not generally annoy or upset the overall effect. I personally didn’t like the name Marcelina, because it brings to mind names of princesses of the type Jasmina, Rosemarina and so on. I also think that broken ribs (the most frequent injury) would hamper the heroes in the performance of their heroic acts more seriously than they appear to. Still, the battles have been fought to the finish, and long live the next volume – this time set over the seas!
Maybe my description of the plot is too dry, but I don’t want to give too much away and deprive readers of their enjoyment of a book of 350 pages. .
Otherwise the book has everything – dragons, werewolves, talking ravens, intrigues, seers, gods and sorcerers, greenmen of the forest, but above all human beings, who manage to rise from the dead as well as to pick flowers, punish and reward, hope, fight on undaunted, and win though.
Tomáš B. Štipský.
XB-1, monthly of sci-fi, fantasy and horror, no. 9, 2013, p. 76
Review of the seventh and so far the last book in the series Wetemaa
Epic of Discord
A bloody clash of arms. The conflict between honour and personal interests, battle and love, peace and war, loyalty to kin and to ruler. The division between the domains of humankind and supernatural beings. The chasm between men once dear to each other. Discord born of passion for limitless power… These are themes brought to us by Adam Andres and “Wetemaa: The Crown of Ellad“.
In literary fantasy at the beginning of the 1990s Vilma Kadlečková was the rising star in the field of Sci-Fi, while in the developing subgenre of fantasy Veronika Válková achieved popularity under the male pseudonym Adam Andres. Her heroic novel “Wetemaa – The Book of the Fate of the Eleven Companions of King Gudleifr”, the first in a series of sagas about the land of Ellad and its knights, is written in a form evoking an ancient codex - a chronicle called the Wetemaa in its own worlds. In an ancient mountain shrine, Fate records on its pages the course of events that form the history of the land.
A richly elaborated universe, strong characterisation and the lively interest of readers has prompted the author to six successful returns to Ellad, inspired by Nordic narratives and medieval heroic romances. These books move back and forward in time, mapping the past and future of the land, without the reader having to be familiar with the rest of the series in order to enjoy the individual volumes. Thus out of dry textbook statements – “the kingdom collapsed, the land found itself in civil war; the fragmented territory was unified”, there emerge the names of people and their stories, which lead to further characters and dramas criss-crossing in time. The key historical moments form the relentless background to the stories inside each volume. The actors keep returning to the stage – in person, or as memories. .
What is so far the last of the books, “The Crown of Ellad”, follows on closely from the “Saga of Wanne” while also being a prequel to the first volume “Wetemaa”.
Veronika Válková’s fantasy is informed by her professional connection with history and her love for it. She composes distinctive personal variations on chivalric legends, woven through with encounters with mythical creatures, and brutal Northern odes on heroic deeds. Underpinning all this is the tragedy of a single land, constructed with documentary precision…and with many real echoes in the history of humankind.
The author works with the theme of rule, power and war at a stylised level, but in the details she presents it with the juicy, bloody immediacy of reality. The psychology of the characters is three-dimensional but not naturalistic – it is adapted to the canon of heroic fantasy. The basic diction of the story is formed by the model of ancient narration, but the language oscillates between archaisms and modern expressive techniques appealing to the reader.
The readability of the saga is enhanced by poetic imagination, the impression of historical credibility under the mask of the fantastic, and the mythically dark atmosphere of inexorable fate. The author’s sympathetic interest in the protagonists is striking (especially the charismatic Wanne, son of the highest of the gods of Ellad). She exposes her characters to cruel dangers and terrible reverses, allows them to fail and die; but they never lose the sympathy and respect of either their creator of the readers. They remain people of flesh and blood. .
And we want to know what is going to happen to them! That is the magic of narrative; it is how “Wetemaa” casts its spell. .
Translated by Anna Bryson