A Deep Review, Book Review

A Deeper Look # 1


Taking a deeper look into The First Child by Amy Harmon by doing a fun reader’s challenge presented by Gabriela Pereira creator of the diymfa. There will be spoilers, warning for those who have not read this book.


Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.


The Protagonist

Bayr of Saylok

Who is actually telling the story?

Dagmar is telling the story, but the actual protagonist is Bayr. We learn the story through Dagmar’s eyes until Bayr leaves to protect Alba. He is an extraordinary character who was cursed by his mother to bring salvation to Saylok. He protects, because he wants to, Saylok, the temple’s keepers, and especially Alba. We learn Alba and Bayr’s fate is linked. His heart belongs to her. There is no Bayr without Alba and no Alba without Bayr. 

Which character’s story do you want to follow?

Ghost and Dagmar are whose story I want to follow. I usually like the secondary characters as much or more than the main, but in this story, Ghost and Dagmar are more interesting than Bayr and Alba.

What type of character is your protagonist?

Bayr is an average Joe, even though his situation is extraordinary. He does what he does because he feels like it is his duty. He doesn’t appear a super hero. I believe being raised by the Keepers gave him a unique perspective in life. Bayor is the character who needs to rise to the occasion.

What is the character’s deepest desire?

The character’s desire was to be with and protect those he loved. He didn’t care about glory or power. He was happy being away from the crowd and living with the temple keepers or protecting Alba.

What does this character want?

To protect those he loves.


The Five Promises

At the beginning of a book, the author makes five promises to the reader. These are a character, voice, world, problem, and event. Do these promises appear early in the story, or the author choose to delay any of them?

Character

Who are we meant to root for?

We are meant to root for is Bayr of Saylok

Who is the character at the center of the story?

The center of the story is Bayr of Saylok.

Voice

Voice is what connects the reader to the storyteller.

Whose voice is telling the story? Is it a character in the story or a narrator outside the story looking in?

There are 3 characters whose voice tells the story: Dagmar, Bayr, and Ghost. Dagmar is the first character who we follow. He is the main voice of the story until Bayr turns 7. Ghost’s view comes around after the first girl child.

World

Where does the story take place? Is a realistic, contemporary world, or an imagined fantasy world?

The story takes place in a realistic world named Saylok.

How is the author showing us the world of this story right from the start?

Saylok is a Viking inspired world. Norse gods/goddesses such as Odin, Thor, and Freya are mentioned throughout the novel. You have the temples full of monk like people called keepers. In Saylok you have 6 clans full of warriors and shield maidens, though the shield maidens.

Problem

What immediate obstacle is the character facing? This obstacle might be directly related to the central conflict of the book, or it might be a separate but related problem.

Because of how the curse was created, Bayr is not like any other child. He grew bigger and faster than children his age. He is strong for his age. This makes those around him think the gods blessed him. He also has a speech issue. Bayr stutters especially when put on the spot.

There have been no female children born in Saylok since Bayr have been born until Alba, and it is tearing the clans apart and losing their faiths with the keepers. Bayr ends up being Alba’s and Saylok’s protector.


The Inciting Incident

The inciting incident is a decision point that moves us from Act 1 to Act 2. This is one of the main landmark moments in the three-act story structure.

What is the external event that sets up the inciting incident?

Bayr calms a hysterical horse who was pulling Queen Alannah and baby Princess Alba. After the incident, he visits the two in the queen’s garden several times. Queen Alannah becomes a mother figure to Bayr.

What internal choice does the protagonist make that they act on to pivot us into Act II?

After visiting the Queen and Princess multiple times, this leads him to kill men who were trying to kidnap baby Princess Alba.

What makes this moment a point of no return? Why can’t the protagonist go back to the status quo?

The King and the Clans have declared him the Princess’s personal bodyguard, and the keepers do not want to go against the clans’ wishes. He is leaving the temple to live in the King’s home permanently.

How does the protagonist’s choice affect you, the reader, and your feelings toward this character?

Bayr isn’t a killer by choice, but he will do anything to protect the ones he cares for. He ends up caring a lot for the Queen and the baby Princess.


Supporting Cast

Which of these supporting character archetypes you see reflected in the book you have chosen. Are they all present? How does each of these supporting characters add tension to the story or support the protagonist’s journey?

I believe I see a bit of the five archetypes.

The Villain

The villain of the story is King Banruud who is the reason the curse Desdemona created.

The Love Interest

Alba later in the story when they are older, Alba is a love interest to Bayr. Ghost ends up as being Dagmar’s love interest.

The BFF, Sidekick, or Entourage

Alba was tricky as she ended up into two categories: the BFF, sidekick or Entourage. The rest of the BFF, sidekick or Entourage is the Daughters of Saylok and Ghost.

The Mentor

Dagmar is hands down the mentor and one who is still learning as he goes.

The Fool

The fool is Dagmar’s father Dred who doesn’t show up until later on but takes the role


The Midpoint

Temporary Triumph

This is a moment where the character appears to get what they want, but they realize it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. They begin to have second thoughts about whether they really wanted that thing in the first place.

False Failure

This seems like a rock bottom moment where it seems like things can’t possibly get any worse for the protagonist… until they do get worse.

Is there a scene where the protagonist experiences a moment of self-reflection?

Not sure if this was right. With the different characters’ focus, it was difficult to find Bayr’s moment. The middle of the book is where I thought it would be. When Bayr takes part in the tournament and meets his grandfather Dred. After this meeting, the Dolphys claim was short a participant. Dred claims Bayr for clan Dolphys as Bayr is clanless. Bayr turns down the claim, as he was a temple boy and a servant to the temple. I think it was also because Bayr doesn’t enjoy being put on the spot.

What happens in that mirror moment and how close is it to the center?

I think the “mirror moment” is when Dolphys puts him to a test to become their clan leader. This happens after Bayr was beaten to death by the King and Dagmar insisted on him going to Dolphys. Dred and the other warriors who went to the tournament believes Bayr would become Dolphys’ new chieftain. They leave him out in the woods and waited to see what the gods choose. I believe the wolves represented Bayr’s strength and belonging.


Theme & Thematic Elements

Theme

Could you sum up a book you have selected in a single sentence? If so, this is your theme.

I believe the theme for this book is You are never alone and be true to yourself.

What evidence can you draw from the text that helps support this? What details clued you in to this being the theme?

The author shows family throughout the story, not blood family but the family you create. You have the clans, the keepers, and the Daughters of Saylok.

Thematic elements

What imagery or detail does the author use to underscore that theme? How does the author use these thematic elements to emphasize or illustrate the theme?

A thematic element I see throughout the book is Blood Rune comes into the book in the beginning and it is what started the drought of there not being any female children in the clans. It is the reason why there are the Daughters of Saylok. And it also is something that ends the drought.


The Ending

What happens at the end?

What is the second pivot point of the story (i.e. the dark night of the soul)?

When Bayr finds out, he is romantically in love with Alba and she has always loved him that way. Bayr wanted to marry her but was laughed at and denied by king Banruud because of a diplomatic alliance.

What scene represents the climax?

When Alba ends up marrying the King of the North and he backs out and attacks Saylok. Dagmar has Ghost take the daughters of Saylok to Dolphys for safety. Dagmar protects the temple by bringing it down. By doing this, he injures himself. Ghost kills Banruud telling him she is all those he killed. After that she declared herself as the high keeper. He uses his blood and death to break his sister’s curse.

What is the outcome of the story?

The curse is broken, and female children have been born back into Saylok. The temple has been reconstructed with Ghost’s and the Daughters of Saylok’s help. They have become the keepers. Alba and Bayr have married and became King and Queen of the clans.

In other words, does the character get what they want and do they still want it?

Bayr ended up marrying Alba, and Saylok is protected. The character got what he wanted.


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