Sahra’s Quest is the first of a planned fantasy series called The Valley, written by transplanted Scotswoman Elizabeth Martin, now residing in Wyoming.
The book’s heroine, Sahra, is a traveling medic roaming The Valley, a protected fortress constantly under attack by bands of renegades. When Sahra’s beloved uncle is assassinated, she begins a quest to discover who killed him and why. But courageous Sahra, who can shoot as well as heal, must also understand who she is — why she has silver hair and the gift of mental telepathy.
Sahra’s husband Logan recognizes that Sahra has a mission and doesn’t try to hold her back. Among their loose-knit band are: Gertrude, a steady-as-you-go fellow medic; Willi, a teenaged girl afflicted with TB; and Alice, a child with the same telepathic gifts as Sahra. Villains include the murderous Sykes, and Marianna, the power-crazed leader of the psychic Elites, whom Sahra must confront and subdue. The cast of characters also includes the mysterious Monahan, whose loyalties are unknown.
Sahra’s Quest, the author’s first full-length book, is competently structured. However, all the characters speak alike, displaying no accents, idiomatic speech patterns, or special patterns that would help readers tell them apart. The more noticeable weakness is the lack of any backstory about how or why The Valley became isolated, making it hard for readers to empathize with Sahra and her cohorts; the action is non-stop with no pause for retrospection. Sahra’s fierce determination buoys the plot, but by convention, the author should have included enough background material to make the situations more coherent.
The Valley: Sahra’s Quest is an acceptable start-up from a new fantasy writer. In future installments, however, Martin should more fully map and explain the world she has created in order for the series to garner wide appeal.
Also available as an ebook.