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Take an ordinary man with no extraordinary talents, transport him into another dimension, challenge his long-held concepts of life and its meaning, and send him on a quest, and you have the façade that is The Mystic Of Karl Mind: The Shadow of The Vytos: a read that can best be described as ‘spiritual fantasy’.In such a world, merchant Karl is called upon to be both witness and hero. In such a world, his wife becomes a pawn in a larger game. And in such a world, his attempts to understand are closely linked with a struggle for survival.The prerequisites for reader enjoyment of The Mystic Of Karl Mind are few, but specific: fantasy readers should be interested in a healthy blend of philosophical and spiritual reflection, and should choose this book for more than its fantasy adventure. Those in it for the deeper meaning will be the most satisfied with a sweeping setting that begins in a small village in Victorian times and moves swiftly between worlds, carrying readers along in an eddy of relentless force.

This is the world of Karl, who lives a life ‘without sorrow’ but also without challenge; without love but also seemingly without angst – except for some unexpected lapses: “Time is kind but tricky to his mind. Young Karl has many blackout moments – the thoughts of the unanswered questions of his existence. The quest to reflection and awareness shall always have an unexpected turn of events that makes his thoughts spin in surprising directions. Will turning back be an option?”

A poem follows; then another life and another world: the world of Karl as a child. While this is actually the starting point of the story, Graanoogst’s choice of opening with Karl’s present-day world at the beginning is a clever device that creates a satisfying juxtaposition and contrast of times and invites reader curiosity about what has happened in between.

It’s what lies between that is the meat of The Mystic Of Karl Mind: The Shadow of The Vytos: and this seems the appropriate point to mention that readers who eschew an exploration of the mystical in their swords-and-sorcery fantasies; who resist the impulse to become involved in intrigue as well as elements of fantasy adventure; and who seek a singular path to a journey will find the level of complexity here to be a challenge. In other words: if it’s pure, entertaining adventure that is desired without the inclusion of deeper perspective, move along.

For the strength of The Mystic Of Karl Mind: The Shadow of The Vytos lies not just in an epic journey (that is part and parcel of the fantasy genre itself) but in the protagonists’ underlying motivation, self-discoveries, and spiritual and moral insights; and it’s here that the story shines.

So, go ahead. Set foot on the road that explores inner and outer worlds. And take your time: after all, in a superior story, the journey should ideally be as important as the destination – and in The Mystic of Karl Mind, it is: “You think fear is up the mountains?” Ulnir said, gazing at a glowing piece of wood in the fire. “What you’ll find is no fear. Fear will come when you see no outcome, when you feel the darkness clearing your ending. But you will find no fear. The dragon of forge and fire is also of cold and ice. He is the one who forges the Vytos to the Plecten, empowered by the mighty red.”

Credit Diane Donovan

This was an interesting read full of mermaids and other mythical creatures, elements of the Tarot, and plenty of strange magical events.

The characters of Karl and Eve were quite likable and I enjoyed reading their story. Their experiences were as one might imagine from a normal couple thrown into extraordinary circumstances. The story is intricately woven and it was clear that the author put quite a bit of thought into it.

The book is very nice look at just what is truly important in life. I look forward to reading future books in this promising series.

Credit to Beth