Return of the White Deer by Robert Sells

Return of the White Deer Cover
Return of the White Deer by Robert Sells
Publisher: self
Genre: Action/Adventure, historical, Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (296 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rated: 5 stars
Review by: Rose

It’s not easy growing up in seventh century Mercia, an ancient kingdom in England. Bit more difficult when you are the Chosen One and on track to become the next king. Especially if you have no army, no training, and no noble background.

At least that’s what Pen thought after being kidnapped by the King and locked away in a dungeon. And, who could help him now? His father, a mere farmer? The few people in a backwater village, not even on some maps?

Ahh… but a village of secrets. Secrets about a matronly woman with a dark past and her feisty daughter who somehow had become an expert archer. Secrets even about his father who, without a weapon, took down an armed soldier. Secrets about his mother, long dead. Secrets about an old black horse which could outrun all others. But, most of all, secrets about a strange white deer lurking in a forbidden forest.

After being rescued, Pen finds himself in the middle of a rebellion and on a roller-coaster ride ending with his coronation or, far more likely, his death. Success hinges on this fifteen year old boy growing into a man in a few short months. Yup, growing up in Mercia wasn’t easy.

This book is an exciting look at a particular point in history– the 900s AD– when a young man, Penda, becomes king and is the Chosen One, picked by a legendary white deer when he was just a lad.

Penda dreams of being more than he is–the son of a farmer–and to this end sneaks off to learn how to wield a sword from a neighbor. His is not the only secret however; they abound in this small village.

Mr. Sells kept me on my toes as he slowly unveils the truth, which makes for an excellent book–one which both boys and girls will enjoy. There is fighting and making of war and excitement on one hand and the hint of a romance on the other hand.

The characters are all well-written, but Pen is the star of the show. He’s likable for the most part (though there is one scene where he lets everything get to him and he turns into someone not very likable–fortunately he has a friend to let him know he’s being a brat), and it’s wonderful to see him come of age and grow from an awkward boy into the King of England.

Good job, Mr. Sells, and I’m looking forward to more of your work. I would love to see a future book with these characters!
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  1. Thank you for hosting

  2. Thanks for hosting my book, Return of the White Deer. This is actually the second edition of the book. The first edition was published by Martin Sisters. The final draft had a few errors so I went about editing the Martin Sisters’ version for a year. Tweaking a bit here, adding a character. I decided to self publish after talking with an author-friend, Aaron Lazar. This new edition is a bit shorter, but much better than the first edition. I’m sure readers from 9 to 99 will enjoy the story.

  3. How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

    • I am only reading ebooks. They are just so easy to carry and open! I went the conventional publishing route and with some success. However, many of my sales are at book tours for different events, often, for example, at a winery. With conventional publishing I would make maybe $2 per sale. With self-publishing I would make $7 per sale. The trick, however, is to make sure your self-published book is error free. Folks want (understandably so) clean reading where distracting typing, spelling, and grammar errors are non-existent. So, I have a cadre of friends and fellow authors who ‘proof’ my work. Then I will send it to a professional editor. The final product is more error-free than my former published version!

  4. Victoria says:

    Great post – sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Rita Wray says:

    Sounds like a great read.

    • It is a good read, Rita. Any story that evokes smiles and tears, in nearly equal measures, is a good one. My favorite character is Songor, the bumbling servant of the Pen and his father. Not too bright, but ever loyal and totally devoted to the ‘young master’. More than any other character, he is the one who can bring both smiles and tears.

  6. There is an almost metaphysical aspect to my book, Return of the White Deer. When I started writing, the story took place on Green Whisper Island, a totally make believe place. My main character, a boy, was named Timothy. He had to wrest the kingdom from an evil king who so believed in the dark gods of the North that he dabbled in black magic.

    The story seemed unnecessarily complicated. I wanted the focus to be on the growth of a boy into a young man… compressed into a few short months instead of the typical many years. But, I wanted him to be tolerant of others; tolerant of other religions.

    To broaden my audience I wondered if there was a king who might fit the bill in history. Now, here is the strange part. There was. A King Penda is considered by many to be the first king of England. He was engaged in sixteen wars and countless battles. He had to overcome a rather unsavory king in order to become king himself. And, finally, though a believer in the old gods, he was exceedingly tolerant of other beliefs including Christianity!

    So, Timothy was changed to Pen. I had new name from the history books for the evil king… Cearl… and a bonus. On Penda’s coat of arms is a deer! Not white, but still, a deer. Strange coincidence.

  7. Mary Rose Benipayo says:

    I love your cover

    • Thanks, Mary Rose. Had a great cover designer help me with it. She found the castle and the sword. The sword of the king plays a role in the last few chapters of the story. The exciting part. Very hard to put the book down during the last four or so chapters. The sword was black… “made by elves, the metal so hard it pass through an anvil like a hot knife through butter”. The noticeable absence in the cover is the white deer. We thought it might be interesting and proper to hide the white deer on the back page of the book. If the book is opened up to so that book sides are presented to the reader, the deer is actually in the foreground staring at the reader.

    • Mary… just got the price down on Return of the White Deer. For regular folks (Kindle) $0.99. Free for Kindle Unlimited. In case you’re interested. What kind of books do you like?

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