Noble Courage: Book One of the Aspen Series Kindle Edition
|Length: 483 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Noble Courage is the first book of Daisha Korth's Aspen series of books. Set in a authentic feeling medieval setting, it follows the beginning of Aspen's life amongst the noble families and intrigues that rule the world she has always known. As she endures, and even thrives in this dangerous new world we watch her growth from a bitter yet still innocent girl into a powerful woman able to improve the lives of those around her in even the worst of circumstances.
The feel of this book is exactly what I would expect to get if individual fairytales were novel length. Readers will quickly come to feel that they are reading a Cinderella story intended for an older audience as Aspen rises from abused peasant to noble lady in a world fraught with peril. Like the original, non-Disney fairytales, it manages to capture that simultaneous nature of grim, bleak danger of medieval adulthood with the seeming innocence of childhood dreams. This is enhanced by the rapid pacing of the character development and the sheer optimism of Aspen even as she faces such grim prospects as rape, abuse, poisoning, and other very bleak events.
The writing in this novel is powerfully sensual in its nature. Korth uses very descriptive and emotive language throughout in an effort to help the reader picture the settings exactly as she envisioned them. The appearance of characters, their clothing, the settings they are in are all lavished with vivid description that leaves a strong impression of powerful colors, the feel of the cloth on skin, the sensation of the air on one's face. Her descriptive powers are quite provocative, a boon for anyone who likes to try to put themselves in the place of the characters.
Between this sensual writing and the often powerful emotive and relational feel of many of the scenes, this book provides a strong romantic feel to the reader. While not a romance novel as such, for there is plenty of adventure to be had, readers of romance novels will likely feel quite at home with this book. Relationships are an important focal point in the novel, and the emotional content, both positive and negative, are written about passionately. As relationships progress, the character of the writing about them also progresses, moving from trepidation and bewilderment to a thing of passion, with subtle (and sometimes not subtle) eroticism and desire.
Though the pacing felt a bit fast to me, particularly in terms of the relationships and character development, the plot line and the way Korth weaves things together is done with a grace that leaves no inconvenient lose threads that aren't clearly acknowledged as dangling on purpose for the next book to treat with. There were several moments where I was surprised by the direction things went, but in hindsight the clues were there. No kneejerk out of the blue things here, everything fits neatly into a comprehensive narrative.
One unusual thing that Korth does in the series is the inclusion of shifts of perspective midstream during scenes and conversations. One moment you'll be seeing things from Aspen's inner thoughts, the next, without warning, you are seeing them from the perspective of Thorne, another moment later, Cappy... At first I found this a bit jarring, but I quickly grew used to it, and began to enjoy the additional perspectives and understanding it provided. I've read many novels where inner thoughts during a scene are shown from one perspective only, and then after the scene is over we shift perspectives to another participant and get to see their thoughts on it after the fact. Korth's handling of this by showing multiple perspectives in the moment allows one to see multiple thoughts and perspectives before hindsight has given time to moderate the attitudes and thought patterns of the participants. It actually leaves you feeling a bit more omniscient than the more traditional method. In the end I concluded that her method might need a little polishing (and with six more books in the series already published I expect this polishing has had time to take place) but that the overall effect was worth it.
I recommend this book for readers who like a good mix of romance and adventure taking place in a richly described setting. You'll find yourself drawn powerfully to the characters you love, and angry and hate filled toward the villains you despise. You'll swoon during the moments of passion and fear during the moments of terror. I am going to put two caveats on my recommendation. Topics such as rape and infanticide do come up, which could prove to be triggers for some people. Also, there are several erotic scenes which, while very, very good, might not be for some more reserved readers. Aside from that, pick the book up and give it a try!