By Grace Gardener
When I was younger, sign language seemed amazing to me. The idea that you could talk with someone at the other end of the room, even if the volume was very loud, was just very fun. In the end, I never learned it, mainly because I knew nobody to speak it with and the different versions confused me. I’m still fascinated by it, though. Of course, I realize that actually being deprived of any of your senses must be quite a struggle to live with, but at the same time I’m impressed by how people with disabilities still manage to live relatively normal lives. Recently, I received a free copy of Eubeltic Realm trilogy by Nadine C. Keels, which showcases both the life of a mute, hearing person, and the life of a deaf, speaking person.
The Eubeltic Realm trilogy is about Abigail (mute), Dauntless (speech impediment) and Valorie (deaf). Abigail grows up a pickpocket, her father having disappeared after a violent outburst brought on by a mental illness. When she takes a trip overseas, she meets Daun and his sister Valorie. Throughout the books, various plots take place, including two romances and more exploration of characters’ backstories and the repercussions of said pasts on the present. Meanwhile, the kingdom is going through some big changes politically, with the king trying to bring back more compassion to balance out the justice.
The series was marketed as fantasy, and while I do believe it technically fits in there when it comes to worldbuilding, you shouldn’t expect any kind of fighting. To me, the books were mainly an insight into the lives of disabled people and their community, with the story not even mainly revolving around their disabilities. I liked this, because it showed that the protagonists – Abigail, Dauntless and Valorie – were real people with problems and dreams outside of the one thing that stood out to people first. The first book is told through Abigail’s perspective, then the next one has Daun as a protagonist, and then we have Valorie. The books are still in chronological order, though, so we don’t get any of that annoying repetition when we switch perspectives and have to watch everything all over but from a slightly different point of view.
What I mostly enjoyed about the books was the way everybody’s character was portrayed. Sad backstories weren’t just there to add a thin pretense of personality, they were stuck in consequently and shown to still be relevant in how the characters related to their daily lives. Everybody’s character was distinct, and I didn’t feel as if their disabilities were their sole defining character trait as it often is in books. They just felt like real people and I often forgot they weren’t communicating normally. Backstories and circumstances shaped characters, but they each had their own unique way of dealing with what life threw at them.
The political side was the least interesting to me, because it was a lot of talk about things that I’ve heard enough talk about, and the last book was about who owns what land and who has power and how to be diplomatic and I was way more invested in the romance. That being said, the worldbuilding seemed well thought out. Things made sense – politically, at least. At one point, I found out this place had guns and I was a bit confused because I had just assumed this was an era before them. I’m still not sure when this is supposed to be taking place, but the most important part of the worldbuilding is the society, so it doesn’t really matter.
In the end, although this trilogy wasn’t what I thought I was getting, but I still really enjoyed it. The insights into the life of deaf and mute people were very interesting, and it has once again made me appreciative of how God has made humans creative in how they communicate and live. The romances were sweet, and although I didn’t care much for the politics, they made sense and weren’t too boring or difficult to understand. The main reason I’d recommend Eubeltic Realm is that it gives you the chance to learn about others by reading a fun story.