Strong messages about female empowerment permeate an inventive fantasy waiting for its conclusion.

SHAMRA DIVIDED

BOOK TWO OF THE SHAMRA CHRONICLES

In the second volume of the Shamra trilogy, Dara must learn who she is and where her people came from if she plans to confront the Chaos that threatens her people.

After defeating the Trocs in Curse of the Shamra, the first volume of The Shamra Chronicles, child hero Dara returns to assess the damage and prepare for her next battle against her greatest foe yet. But, despite the previous novel’s momentum, she must first learn about her people, the Shamra, their struggles and how they came to leave their homeland. Briana, who had appeared in Dara’s dreams, relates the lengthy history of the Shamra people as the two girls evade their enemies in a game of cat-and-mouse. Two hundred years ago, the Shamra were enslaved by the Kimra; Dara’s ancestor Drea led the rebellion to overthrow them. In a prescient move after the Pyrrhic victory, the priest, farmer and artisan clans fled the land in search of safer realms. But the fierce hunter clan, led by Drea, stayed, although a core group of hunters traveled with the priest-led refugees to ensure that their true history was not lost. The refugees suffered under the priests’ demands for female subservience—a pervasive issue in the saga—while Drea struggled with in-fighting and betrayal among her clan. As new generations mature, a pattern of misogyny and disloyalty develops in the Shamra people, with recurrent themes of the burden of leadership, the thrill of the hunt and the general unreliability of males. The repetition grows tiresome. Eventually, the Shamra discover that their immorality is not innate—it’s the working of Chaos, a force that infiltrates societies and destroys them from within. Dara’s ancestors defeated and temporarily contained Chaos, but now it threatens to break loose and corrupt the Sharma yet again. Being the middle book of the trilogy, this volume contains mostly backstory with no attempt at conclusion, which wouldn’t disappoint if its presentation weren’t so muddled. Fans of the first volume and readers looking for another realm to explore will enjoy the world-building, but they’ll have to wait until the series’ next volume to see if Dara truly is the savior she’s prophesized to be.

Strong messages about female empowerment permeate an inventive fantasy waiting for its conclusion.

Pub Date: May 10, 2010

ISBN: 978-1934267165

Page Count: 303

Publisher: Edge Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2012

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A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences.

MIDNIGHT SUN

From the Twilight series , Vol. 5

A long-awaited Twilight (2005) companion novel told from vampire Edward’s point of view.

Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire (and eternal 17-year-old), finds his world turned upside down when new girl Bella Swan’s addictive scent drives a primal hunger, launching the classic story of vampire-meets-girl, vampire-wants-to-eat-girl, vampire-falls-in-love-with-girl. Edward’s broody inner monologue allows readers to follow every beat of his falling in love. The glacial pace and already familiar plot points mean that instead of surprise twists, characterization reigns. Meyer doesn’t shy away from making Edward far less sympathetic than Bella’s view of him (and his mind reading confirms that Bella’s view of him isn’t universal). Bella benefits from being seen without the curtain of self-deprecation from the original book, as Edward analyzes her every action for clues to her personality. The deeper, richer characterization of the leads comes at the expense of the secondary cast, who (with a few exceptions) alternate primarily along gender lines, between dimwitted buffoons and jealous mean girls. Once the vampiric threat from James’ storyline kicks off, vampire maneuvering and strategizing show off the interplay of the Cullens’ powers in a fresh way. After the action of the climax starts in earnest, though, it leans more into summary and monologue to get to the well-known ending. Aside from the Quileutes and the occasional background character, the cast defaults to White.

A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences. (Paranormal romance. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-70704-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences.

REALM BREAKER

When the realm is in danger, only a small band of misfits can save Allward.

An in medias res prologue, told from the point of view of the lone squire accompanying the 12 Companions of the Realm, tosses readers into the thick of a quest. Half the Companions are human heroes and half are immortal Elders; they seek to stop a rogue thief and his wizard accomplice from using a magical Spindle to tear a passage between worlds for nefarious ends. A disastrous battle sends squire Andry fleeing with Cortael’s sword so villain Taristan can’t get his hands on it. Grieving Elder Dom requires both a person of Corblood (a descendant of human travelers from another realm) and the Spindleblade Andry protects to stop Taristan from bringing ruin to the realm. Dom seeks Cortael’s secret daughter, Corayne, a bright but sheltered teenager with a pirate mother. At times the narrative tension is undermined by flashbacks that readers already know the conclusions to and by occasional repetition caused by the multiple point-of-view jumps, but there’s a wide variety of action scenes, daring escapes, and betrayals. Many tropes and character types are familiar, but exquisite descriptions and clashing motivations result in a nuanced, sprawling realm with a sense of complicated history. This world is highly diverse in terms of both skin tone and in the refreshing range of roles female characters inhabit.

An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences. (map) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287262-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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