- File Size: 2263 KB
- Print Length: 638 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1546418687
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Steven Kelliher (May 30, 2017)
- Publication Date: May 30, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B071W66TH9
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,330 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Emerald Blade (The Landkist Saga Book 2) Kindle Edition
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The first book, VALLEY OF EMBERS, introduced the characters and the world—including the beliefs and history that purportedly shaped it. Book 1 essentially and ultimately laid waste to what the people believed to be their origin and the nature and reasons for the current plight. It saw the world as they knew it stand on a precipice, no longer certain of truths taken as gospel for as long as the oldest living resident could remember. Most everyone emerged from the first book changed--physically, psychologically, philosophically--ushering a period of adjustment.
Book 2 delves deeper into the world and the lives of the characters. It wears its heart on its sleeve as relationships start to form or become apparent. Being more emotional, Book 2 necessarily makes you care more about the characters, to be invested in their survival despite a growing suspicion that they will not all likely endure much less survive.
Steven Kelliher ratchets up the intrigue. First, he casts doubt on his own protagonist Kole, constantly calling into question his motives, doubting the source of his power, and suggesting that his power controls him rather than vice versa. Second, he casts doubts on Kole's friends and allies—questioning whether or not they truly are working towards the same objective or even that any such common objective is desirable or worthy of their efforts. Third, he multiplied the number of apparent foes, forcing his protagonists to fight on multiple fronts. Fourth, he obscures the nature, impetus, and ultimate objectives of the designated antagonists. If their version of history is correct, then they might not be enemies at all. Or perhaps all enemies are not created equal. Is the enemy of your enemy truly some kind of an ally or simply an enemy on a different front? Is aligning with a not-quite-ally merely delaying a war until a common foe is vanquished? Fifth, Kelliher subtly suggests that foes are not outside the realm of redemption—that a seeming foe is as likely to turn right as left. If such person indeed stands at a crossroads, should efforts be exerted to steer him towards the true road or should he preemptively be vanquished as a precautionary measure? A complex, sophisticated antagonist is a requisite to a multi-layered story.
All of this is put in play because Kelliher has lined up a wide array of players, each one injecting their own demands and interests, most or even all rather reasonable, where many appear to be neither friend nor foe. There exists several versions of "the truth", each plausible or believable and not necessarily mutually exclusive. Questioning the very origin and history of the people who populate his world adds layers of complexity and sophistication to the story. In calling everything into question, gods become less divine, kings become less regal and more capricious, wars become less necessary. He laid the foundation to make The Embers—the humans with mysterious elemental powers—equally likely heroes or pawns. The magic is not neat or tidy, it is mysterious as it often should be—appreciated and wielded with pride but often arbitrary rather than deserved or in any way predictable or even understandable. The story feels more realistic, more believable—life's choices are rarely between black and white, most are varying shades of grey—and certainly more engrossing.
In all the subtlety of the machinations going on, I almost forgot to mention the fights. Almost. There is nothing subtle about the gnarly skirmishes, clashes, scrimmages, dustups, etc. Flames are thrown about, wind directed to and fro, the very land under their feet upended, moved and reduced to dust. Okay, there is some subtlety--when a power exists that rends one from the inside out. The fights have a lot of heart and sometimes literally crushes hearts. Battle rating: On Fiyah!
The story ebbs and flows, sometimes not so seamlessly, stalling or bogging down the narrative at some points. The prose occasionally lends itself to repetition, seemingly untrusting of the writing skill or perhaps the reader's ability to grasp it with only a singular impression. Yet Kelliher will sometimes deliver a startling jolt, succinctly creating visual images, calling forth a palpable atmosphere, or evoking powerful emotions with brevity and a remarkable turn of phrase:
“Brega knew this land better than the rest of them. He knew how it could betray travelers too weary or too proud to think better, just as he knew it could take a man in an instant beneath the same boughs that had sheltered him moments before.”
“This was a town both large and small enough to lose something without losing sight of it.”
“'If there's anything more dangerous than a Sage who fancies himself a god,” Wend said, “it's one who fancies himself a man.'”
“How quickly the wielder could become the wielded. How quickly archer could become arrow.”
“But we're in a dance with gods now, Linn—or forces that consider the sun and stars their kin rather than their betters.”
xxx “the sounds betrayed an abundance of things that killed to live and died to let others do the same.”
“They passed under branches that might have been roots and over roots that might have been branches.”
“It took a fire to fight, but a coldness to kill.”
Like the series, Steven Kelliher is geometrically growing with and in the telling of The Landkist Saga. While the first book showed clear promise, this second one makes good on that promise and commits to new ones—it fleshes out characters to cheer for even if they falter, makes desirable the survival and endurance of an imperfect world, and delivers a conflict that is complex, possibly impossible to entirely resolve, yet worthy of the effort.
A promise is a promise, Mr. Kelliher. I have high expectations for Book 3.
The Emerald Blade, like its predecessor, is influenced a lot by Miyazaki and Avatar: The Last Airbender. This one gave me a real big Avatar vibe, and like with book one, I was totally okay with it. Perhaps a little more here, since, ah... well someone is sort of the last airbender in this particular tale. The Emerald Road itself had a huge, huge Princess Mononoke vibe going on as well (great forest spirit and all - a lovely homage). Don't get me wrong though, it's certainly influenced by these things, but it's still original. It takes its own path, and has its own story and its own characters, but that story and those characters just happen to bring to mind some of my favorite animation, just as the first book did. In this volume of the story, the King of Embers is on his way to a land called Center, where the Emerald Blade, another Sage-like being similar to the White Crest is said to live. Kole and Linn gather a group together to follow him to Center, because where he goes, the Eastern Dark is bound to be close. At the same time, Linn's Faeykin sister Iyana travels north to the deserts to see what the Embers' ancestral homelands have to hide, and what can be done there to revive the Embers of the Valley, who are becoming fewer every generation. A grand adventure is had by all. Well, a grand adventure is had by Linn and Kole at any rate.
I liked how we saw things from the POV of some of the antagonists (more or less) from time to time, and their POV of course disagreed in many ways with that of the protagonists, so that was kind of neat. The plot had plenty of twists and turns in it, and kept me guessing about things like certain characters' motivations. I really liked The Emerald Blade as a character, where I wasn't sure I would at first. I was expecting to see more from Iyana and her company, but as soon as both groups split up, that seemed to be the end of anything from Iyana and her group. Oh well.
My one real criticism of this one is that it could have been a bit shorter. It's a veritable tome of a novel, and while lots of interesting things do happen in it, there are times when the pace slows down considerably. The pacing is mostly fine, especially during the exciting parts, but the slow parts sometimes drag along a bit and I found myself wanting to just get back to the exciting stuff. It didn't happen too often, but often enough that I thought about it, I guess. Let's just say that I still managed to find time and motivation to read the whole thing on my vacation, so even with that gripe, it can't have been too bad, amirite?
Other than the slower parts, as I said, I thought this one was wholly better than the first. I still like Kole and Linn a lot, as characters, though I do wish that this series had a tad more romance in it. Kole's relationship with Linn is often portrayed as very close but ambiguous and I wish it wasn't. It's okay if they're just friends, but if that was made more clear, it would weigh less on my mind, I think. I would hope less for intimacy between them if I knew for sure that their relationship wasn't like that. Either way, I'm eagerly awaiting the next book in the series!
Also, I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review of it. :D
Well worth getting and reading.
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