Book Critique - Year One (Chronicles of The One, # 1)

For review of all books in this series: Go here

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A dystopian magical romantic novel from the queen of romance with hints of myths and shades of evil vs good. Perfect for anyone who is a first-time reader of Nora or who is coming back to her books.

Year One (Chronicles of The One, # 1) is the first book in the Chronicles of The One series by Nora Roberts published in December of 2017. The plot revolves around a group of people who are fighting the battle of their lives in a world that is at conflict between science and magic.

A Nora Roberts novel always involves magic, mythology, romance and powerful men and women who fight whatever evils she throws at them. But Year One is anything but typical. This is the first time Nora had attempted at an apocalyptic plot but still retains her hand on magic. In fact there is clear conflict between magic and science in this plot while fighting The Doom that caused the apocalypse. The plot begins in Scotland contrary to her favorite Ireland. So the myth or magical elements she would be weaving in will definitely be a Scottish one which we are yet to read about. I believe this is her first book with a Scottish background as far as I remember (May be I am wrong too!)

The Doom although takes away most of the population it rises the Dark and Light magic in people. Some survive the Doom because of it and some don’t. With that there also comes serious disrupt in technology causing a tamper in most essential needs of man – Gas, Electricity, Water and Medicine along with Food. Nora takes us to a world that learns to live in pre-technology and pre-modern medicine methods – hand-written or typed notes, home grown vegetables, herbs and even medicinal plants, farming, hand-woven or stitched clothes, fire instead of electricity – along with learning to live with magic, both good and bad.

Thus she gives a segue into the conflict between magic and science, between bad and good magic, between survivors and those who cause harm, in her plot. With that she also introduces Government and Non-Government Organizations who want to know why someone survived The Doom or to rule the world their way and the rise of factions such as The Raiders and Purity Warriors – a situation that normally expected out of any apocalyptic environment.

Contrary to her previous series of similar kind involving magic and mythology, Nora Roberts doesn’t have her typical three men three women warrior and magic group. Instead she has a large number of people bonding together in the time of need – Jonah Vorhies a paramedic with a special ability to see death and life; Dr. Rachel Hopman, Jonah’s love interest and a doctor who survived the apocalypse caused by The Doom; Lana Bingham, a novice witch; Max Fallon, a writer and a witch; Katie McLeod Parsoni, sole survivor of the McLeod clan along with her new-born twins Duncan and Antonio, and an orphaned new-born, Hannah; Arlys Reid, a dedicated reporter who still wants to report despite loss in technology and audience; Little Fred, an intern at Arlys’ station and with powers of her own along with an abundance of optimism; Eddie Clawson and his dog Joe, strays that add on to Lana and Max’s group; Chuck, Arlys’ friend and a computer genius; and many many more. But one thing she did not change, a common villain for all these characters to have a goal, a purpose. How all these people integrate, combine and form a unit despite pressing times is the plot of the rest of the book.

For a second while reading I had my doubts on how would Nora bring so many characters together, but I didn’t need to fear at all. Almost the entire book it was a very gripping read except for one or two chapters where I felt I was in a dormitory heading a group of kids and trying to sort out trivial fights. A little bit drag to the plot with those chapters yet the rest of it managed to grip me to it. One never know where Nora would bring these dragged parts and highlight them so we don’t remember the drag and understand their necessity in the plot.

Nora breaks out her plot in sections with 1-page inserts at the start of the section showing the title and a quote – The Doom, Escape, Survival and Dark to Light. Very few books of her have such kind of breakage. I remember seeing it in her 2001 book Three Fates, although that could almost be considered a series grouped in one book. (My review of that book here).

Another of her recent book that I remember reading, of which the review is yet to be posted, has similar split is the 2017 book Come Sundown. And there could be more but I fail to remember now. Those 1-page inserts provide the reader a preview of what they would expect in that section. I am not sure if I want the content to be revealed so much before even I read it, but in some of her books I liked having these, and in some I didn’t. In this case with Year One, I liked having these 1-page inserts as there are so many characters and sub-plots, it was easier to keep them straight in my mind.

An intense story Nora has pulled out of her feather in a long time. However, there are too many characters, too many sub-plots and too many gaps that are yet to be filled. Perhaps the second one in the series will answer all those questions that a reader would have. Emotionally it stuck me hard after reading this book. For several days I had been thinking about the plot, about why Nora had given a certain destiny to a character or why she had taken her plot in a certain way. And now while I write the review all those thoughts are reverberating in my mind.

The last time I felt thus after reading a Nora Roberts book was when I had finished Sign of Seven Trilogy. That brings up another point, she hasn’t mentioned if this would be a trilogy or a quartet or a multi-book series (which Nora has attempted only once with The McGregor books).

As always I would be waiting for the next book in the series to read. However, if you are a first-time reader of Nora or returning back to her books, this is a perfect book to pick up.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Plot Reveals:

a. Nora constantly refers to Ross McLeod in the beginning and later to Max Fallon as Tuatha de Danann. Wondering who or what that is I checked on it. It is loosely translated as the people of the goddess Dana or Danu who are a supernatural race in Irish Mythology. More about them here. There in itself Nora brings back her Irish mythology into the plot. It is interesting to see that her plot covers both Scottish and Irish myths and legends which is also a first for her.

2) Nora Roberts talks about a concept called “First Footer” on new year’s day. I wasn’t really concentrating on that until a friend of mine had posted on his FB page about first-foot. Through him I came to know that it is part of Hogmanay or New Year as Scots called it. A Scottish tradition – but of course Nora would bring in a Scottish tradition since the plot is based in Scotland. Coming back to First Foot, it is said that to ensure good luck for the house the first foot should be a dark haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and a wee dram of whisky. Perhaps they preferred dark haired male to blonde – a throwback to Viking Days. More about this tradition here and here.


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