When destiny beckons, no one can ignore the call....
Heroes of Destiny is an epic fantasy trilogy in potentia by young Canadian author Kevin Wong. Thus far only its first installment is completed and available for purchase; it is entitled Heroes of Destiny, Episode I: Eternal Knights, and Wong self-published it in 2006 with the help of Friesens in Altona, Manitoba. The book can be bought directly from its author via his personal website. The second book of the trilogy is incomplete, but already has a title: it's Heroes of Destiny, Episode II: Sacrifice of the Gods, and I imagine that it will be published and distributed in the same way.
I first encountered Kevin Wong and his oeuvre with the unwitting help of the Dalhousie University Faculty of Computer Science, of which Wong is an alumnus. Upon the release of Heroes of Destiny, Episode I: Eternal Knights, he embarked upon a book tour around the city of Halifax and its environs; one of his first stops was the atrium of the Computer Science building, where he spent much of his undergraduate career. The book-signing lasted for the better part of a day, and it was a harrowing experience—midway through the day, Wong was attacked by a remote-controlled robot that seemed offended when he offered it a copy of the book—but he doesn't seem to regret it; under the watchful eyes of everyone working in the building that day, Wong was catapulted into fame and literary stardom. He sold many books, and many more during the remaining days of his book tour, and in so doing groomed a cult following for himself.
Halifax newspaper The Daily News profiled Wong and Heroes of Destiny, Episode I: Eternal Knights on July 13, 2006. In that article, the book—and the trilogy-to-be of which it is a part—is described as being "about a group of friends who go on a mission to redeem the world from demons hell-bent on destroying it". But to my mind, this description misses the point of the novel, and glossing it so superficially does Wong a grave disservice. Heroes of Destiny is certainly an adventure story; but it is also a love story, and an allegorical lesson about morality, and an unrestrained tour through the mind of one of this century's most original thinkers. Above all, it is deeply touching call for all humanity, beseeching them to keep their sense of hope and childlike innocence and purity.
The story is set on a world called Eternium, and its characters adventure through the continent Eterniad; the story begins in the small country of Eternia, at the centre of which is Eternia Town and its rulers' abode, Eternia Castle. It is a utopian place:
Eternia contains noble people, commands a grand army, sails a sturdy navy, possesses vast wealth, produces endless bounties, creates timeless histories, worships great Kings and Queens, and eliminates want and suffering. If ever a land existed that peace truly smiled down upon it every single day and every single night, the Kingdom of Eternia is that land. (From Heroes of Destiny, Episode I: Eternal Knights, Chapter 1: The Eternal Knight.)
Providing a complete listing of characters would be an unforgivable indiscretion, because many of the characters' names either allude to or overtly reference their roles in the story. But I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that the protagonist is named Kevin, and he lives at home with his mother in Eternia Town; and that Kevin's love interest is the most beautiful woman in the entire world, the Eternian Princess, Launa. There's an astonishing variety of supporting characters who meet up with Kevin along the way; but he and Launa are at the heart of the story for its duration.
Kevin is handsome and brave, and a capable fighter; as the story opens, he is training to be a Knight of Eternia, which is the highest military honour that Eternia bestows upon any citizen. Launa is a perfect match for him:
She was a vibrant, charming, and sweet young girl, who also carried within her countless abilities that were each limitless, and a love for helping others that was immeasurable. She was extremely gentle and loveable, yet she was also ardently fiery and passionate. Her eyebrows were thin, and her complexion was rosy and full of life. She had incredible, long, and silkily-flowing brunette hair, and absolutely gorgeous, deep, crystal-clear blue eyes. Her figure was like that of a Goddess, and her smile seemed to light-up everything and everyone around her..." (from Chapter 1: The Eternal Knight.)
Their love is a beautiful thing, innocent and pure, and they spend a significant portion of the novel gazing deeply and passionately into each other's eyes. It is also a moral love: Kevin and Launa are each saving their virtue for the other, and neither would dare so much as consider leaving the relationship for someone else. This is perhaps the greatest lesson that Heroes of Destiny, Episode I: Eternal Knights has to offer its readers: nothing bad can befall a love so sweet and virtuous.
But sweet virtue does not preclude pleasures of the flesh. Kevin and Launa's love is also passionate:
Pressed against Launa's pure, yet nubile, body, Kevin ran his hands down the small of Launa's back, and caressed her delicately soft, smooth skin—causing tiny goose bumps to surface atop Launa's back as his fingertips moved along it so seductively. While Kevin was becoming entranced with the feel of the satiny skin of Launa, Kevin was also growing spellbound with the smell of Launa's intoxicating perfume, and more importantly: her absolutely mesmerizing natural scent. Akin to Kevin's sensations, Launa could not help but become enraptured by Kevin as he held her so strongly, yet so softly, alongside his body, and she felt powerless to resist the innate scent of Kevin's sweat and pheromones: a matchless musk that suddenly caused unbridled temptations to flow throughout her entire body, which was now trembling and wholly unable to resist succumbing to every one of Kevin's whims—or every one of her own whims for that matter. While Kevin continued to hold Launa's honeyed and ambrosial body close to his, and while they both continued to breathe and feel each other into the very recesses of their beings and souls, Kevin gently kissed Launa's creamy, saccharine neck, and said to her, "I have to go now. I love you." (from Chapter 1: The Eternal Knight.)
The plot centres around a great and noble adventure/quest to save Eternia—and, indeed, Eterniad, and all of Eternium itself—from the evil marauding demons who are endeavouring to take over the planet and make it serve their own nefarious ends. As the story unfolds, it becomes clearer and clearer to Kevin and Launa that they are destined to save their world; and since it is their destiny, they are able to rise to it and act heroically.
This is the second-most important lesson from the story: that good can conquer evil, and will conquer evil, if only you believe in its power to do so. Of course, having a true love to rely upon in times of hardship helps, and so does having the backing of your entire continent's military power; but destiny and the power of good can prevail, even when operating at a disadvantage.
I was touched by the story that begins in Heroes of Destiny, Episode I: Eternal Knights, and I have sent copies of the book itself or instructions on how to get it to many people; but few have managed to read the entire thing cover to cover, which is a testament to the breathtaking depth and scope of Wong's vision. The first installment weighs in at a little over four hundred pages, but this is not a novel to be savoured lightly; it needs to be read with careful attention to the nuances of Wong's writing, and with an eye to the moral lessons it has to teach us about love and living lives that are virtuous. In my own reading of the novel, I augmented my perception by consuming a shot of alcohol at every instance where more than eight exclamation points appear sequentially; it both punctuated the most adventurous points of the story and broadened my awareness of Wong's overall aim, and I suggest that any other reader follow my example. The ending is so heartstoppingly tragic that, by the time you reach it, you'll need the emotional fortification.
Some information from Kevin Wong's website, http://www.kevinwong.ca, but most from having read and loved to pieces the novel. Its prologue and first chapter are available on Wong's website, and so is the Daily News profile.