Book Reviews - The Spanish Gatekeeper Series

Featured "First Novel" review by Nathan Brazil - (September 2012)

Read the entire review:

[excerpt] I should at this point make it clear that the trilogy is not another Narnia type adventure. The only magic on TNX-37B is actually high technology, and the one remaining "wizard," Thomajun, is in fact an Osir scientist. Thomajun, now an old man, is more interested in his ornithologically based experiments than any problems that his race may have created for the planet's inhabitants.

Throughout, Bernard Dukas gives the impression of having chosen to create something that, while not blessed with an overabundance of originality, presents a refreshing retro feel. It's a tale rooted in a more gentle, comparatively innocent age, before the wholesale destruction of world wars changed everything. This helps the work to stand out, and may appeal to inquisitive younger readers for whom period style vocabulary is an undiscovered country. It will also interest parents who like to read to their children, secure in the knowledge that the work contains none of the incessant swearing, soulless sexuality, or gratuitous street savagery so prevalent in today's literature. Not that it is all sweetness and light. There are passages that depict gritty, violent and sometimes tragic events, although mostly in a Boy's Own fashion. The author is also not shy of using words of more than one syllable, and what his publishers rightly term historical allusions, both of which may challenge some young readers to make inquisitive use of Google.

In summary, The Spanish Gatekeeper is a deliberately anachronistic, sprawling adventure with twin lead characters, the female half of which is every bit as involved and interesting as her male counterpart. Indeed, one Gwellem nation is a matriarchal society. The series is as much about growing up, finding out who we are, and the consequences of the choices we make, as it is a work of fiction. While many aspects of the plot are standard fantasy fare, there are twists which definitely do not conform to any 'happy ever after' scenario. Author Bernard Dukas has written a period piece, full of the quaintness and charm of a bygone age, and which in its own way goes back to the future.


The Midwest Book Review

Children’s Book Watch: November 2011 (The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf)

Book 1 of the ‘Spanish Gatekeeper’, Empire of the Ulfair (9780983192909, $11.95) by Bernard Dukas, was a 2011 Compton Crook Award Finalist for best new novel and blends science fiction, fantasy and adventure in the story set in 1900 and telling of Peter de Soto, an English schoolboy, and his cousin, Bonifacia Espasande, who uncover a family heirloom with powers to lure them off-world into a universe filled with strange creatures and challenges. Powerful dialogue and twists and turns of plot make this an exceptional read that ends with a mystery – followed in Book II, Gwellem’s Hitch (97809831912923, $11.95). The second book is best read with the first and picks up the story of the cousins now marooned on the planet. Peter’s purpose is to reunite with his love and find the wizard that can bring them home, while Bonifacia’s seeking to rectify a mistake that threatens her friends. The strong protagonists and their interactions make these highly recommended young adult fantasy reads.


Book I - Empire of the Ulfair

Book II - Gwellem's Hitch

Book III - Og'yre War

Read them as eBooks for Nook or Kindle © 2012 Bernard Dukas