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An enthralling, densely packed, historically rich tale.

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In Wimber’s fantasy novel, immortal brothers battle a host of enemies and each other.

Sahale, the creator of all things, gives his sons, Wyeast and Pathoe, land that they split for their respective tribes; the “Bridge of the Gods” connects the lands, divided by what will one day be known as the Columbia River in the United States. The area is already populated by hulking daemons, which the brothers’ tribes join forces to vanquish. Sadly, Wyeast and Pathoe soon turn against one another when they both fall for the same woman, Loowit. The book’s second section begins after much time has passed and the brothers once again face a common foe: Massive Thunderbirds threaten to wipe out both tribes unless Wyeast and Pathoe can put their differences aside and fight as one. In the final sequence, white settlers arrive on the land that they call America, and the brothers take part in U.S. wars all through the 19th century. The author’s pithy writing delivers readers an epic tale in compact form. She deftly constructs her narrative (which is based on an Indigenous myth) to provide glimpses into America’s tumultuous growth. The female characters are impeccably well drawn, especially the skilled archer/warrior/healer, Tacoma. By sharp contrast, the brothers’ perpetual squabbling wears thin (the pair are frequently scolded like children). Nevertheless, their story cleverly parallels the book’s historical arc—they sympathize with the Indigenous peoples, but, like the U.S. government, they seize land that isn’t theirs. Contemporary-sounding dialogue throughout helps maintain the brisk pace, although it’s sometimes jarring, as when Tacoma audaciously tells Wyeast, “There is no one else here who is willing to try and pull your head out of your ass.” While each of the three stories contained here concludes satisfactorily, another tale or three about these immortals would be welcome.

An enthralling, densely packed, historically rich tale.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 9781039165670

Page Count: 339

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2023

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From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

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From the Empyrean series , Vol. 2

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

A young Navarrian woman faces even greater challenges in her second year at dragon-riding school.

Violet Sorrengail did all the normal things one would do as a first-year student at Basgiath War College: made new friends, fell in love, and survived multiple assassination attempts. She was also the first rider to ever bond with two dragons: Tairn, a powerful black dragon with a distinguished battle history, and Andarna, a baby dragon too young to carry a rider. At the end of Fourth Wing (2023), Violet and her lover, Xaden Riorson, discovered that Navarre is under attack from wyvern, evil two-legged dragons, and venin, soulless monsters that harvest energy from the ground. Navarrians had always been told that these were monsters of legend and myth, not real creatures dangerously close to breaking through Navarre’s wards and attacking civilian populations. In this overly long sequel, Violet, Xaden, and their dragons are determined to find a way to protect Navarre, despite the fact that the army and government hid the truth about these creatures. Due to the machinations of several traitorous instructors at Basgiath, Xaden and Violet are separated for most of the book—he’s stationed at a distant outpost, leaving her to handle the treacherous, cutthroat world of the war college on her own. Violet is repeatedly threatened by her new vice commandant, a brutal man who wants to silence her. Although Violet and her dragons continue to model extreme bravery, the novel feels repetitive and more than a little sloppy, leaving obvious questions about the world unanswered. The book is full of action and just as full of plot holes, including scenes that are illogical or disconnected from the main narrative. Secondary characters are ignored until a scene requires them to assist Violet or to be killed in the endless violence that plagues their school.

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374172

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

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