on August 6, 2013
I liked the story and the characters but I admit that the contemporary American teen-age slang coming out of the mouths of folks in a different world was jarring. It made me think this was just a bunch of American kids thrown into another environment. I think the author did a decent job of world building but she needs to consider the words she has the characters use as part of that world.
There also wasn't much action or much of a plot. The book starts out with a daring rescue (briefly) but then 90% of the story is the kids going to school classes a la Harry Potter. The last 5% is another rescue after which the kids find out that they really aren't in trouble after all, and it sets up the next installment.
on August 8, 2013
I couldn't help to compare my reading experience with getting lost in a big forest. All starts well, you see a beautiful sky and magnificent trees. You hear birds singing and can feel the sun on your face. What a great walk this will be! But then... You were so lost in thought you missed a turn in the road. You don't recognize any of the landmarks and quickly walking back, you still don't recognize a thing. Your completely lost! Slightly panicked you continue your journey in the hope to see something familiar. But to no avail... Wait a second! There, that tree! You knew that one! Immensely relieved you run to it, hug and kiss it and continue your walk. Still shaken from you earlier experience and therefore unable to full enjoy the rest of your trip.
That's how I felt while reading this book (okay I was NOT scared but confused and annoyed instead ;) ). I was off on a great start with a very interesting blurb and one heck of a cover! Seriously! It's so beautifully drawn and fit the book perfectly. Amalia Chitulescu is an amazing artist. That was the fun part, aka the entering of the forest. However as soon as I started reading I was lost, confused and not very happy. I don't know what it was, but I was unable to follow the story. It was like there was no red thread and we get to read some random events with no connection whatsoever. Not much was explained and I didn't have the faintest idea what the author tried to accomplish with this beginning. It felt like there were mayor holes in the story, therefore I was unable to find my way back to familiar terrain.
Fortunately the story found it's focus the moment everyone arrives at the school. I slowly but surely understood more and more. I could finally start with identifying all the characters and give them their own voice. However the first part had "shaken" me too much to truly love the second part. Not even the prettiest flower or most magnificent tree could make me forget that I was lost at first.
That said, the beauty of the forest, aka the amazing world that Terah Edun created mollified me enough to continue. It's full of magic and intelligent creatures. With flying horses, who can be haughty at times. A school where everyone has to pas a difficult test to enter. I absolutely loved what the author had created here! It was a great world to discover once I sort of recovered from my initial annoyance.
After having completed my journey, all that is left is to ask is WHY? What makes these five people so special? What has fate in store for them? I'd love to get my hands on the next book and find out!
2 HEARTS. In the first part of the book I had great difficulty with finding my bearings. I could not separate the characters, give them their own identity. I simply had no idea through whose point of view I was reading. Fortunately everything changed for the better when our main characters arrived at the school. From then on I got more and more intrigued by the world that Terah Edun has created and I managed to finish this book feeling slightly happy that I continued. Given the big mystery that the author presented, I'm looking forward to the next book, so I can decipher what it is ^^
on January 17, 2014
This novel introduces the reader to a sizable cast of characters who find themselves thrown together in the Red Madrassa, the most famous of the empire's schools of magic. The number of characters, both human and kith, means that the narrative sometimes tends to be a series of short passages as Edun spins through each one. On the other hand, I find myself interested in them and enjoy discovering their back stories as they go through the first days of their experience as a group. I hope (and expect) that the next novel will develop the story's themes and conflicts more deeply. Although I enjoyed this book, I felt sometimes that it was primarily there to set the scene for the coming novels. It was a fun read, but I'm ready for more, and I look forward to number two.
(For those readers who are reading her other series, I enjoyed the more consistent role development that can be seen in this book.)
on November 25, 2012
All great literature boils down to two things: characterization and story. This is especially true of high fantasy, since it's not pegged to existing reality, as mainstream writing and even most genres tend to be. The protagonists, no matter their circumstances or mysterious powers, must be believably human (at least inside, where it counts), and likeable. Who among us wouldn't want to go adventuring with Bilbo Baggins, Corwin of Amber, or Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser?
As for the story: it needs to make sense, at least within the tropes of the genre, such that we can suspend our disbelief for the duration. The more original the better, too -- though too unique means too confusing, so there needs to be a kernel of the familiar to serve as a touchstone.
It's clear that Terah Edun has learned all these lessons well. In her debut novel, "Red Madrassa," she presents us with a world where Humans share an empire with the water-dwelling humanoid Octupani, draconian Sahelians, and a variety of other intelligent animals and humanoids collectively known as "kith." Many people (though not everyone) can use magic to at least a small extent, and for some, like the kith and the Sahelians, it's essential and central to their existence.
Edun's novel is intended for young adults, and the five main characters are in their teens; but these aren't the squeaky-clean junior magicians you're used to. All five are on the run from something serious when they stumble upon the refuge of the Madrassa, the premier magic school in their world. It takes an odd magical accident involving teleportation portals to bring them together.
Maride, a young mage, begins the story in prison, accused of murdering his fiancé -- until Allorna, a guardian trainee, breaks him out with the help of Sidimo, a healer and close friend. Vedaris was rejected by his family and grew up mostly on the streets, selling his soul and himself to get by. Sitara is on a mission of vengeance when she ends up at the Madrassa, most of her memories gone.
Edun doesn't go into any great detail about their backgrounds in this, the first book of a series, but she doesn't gloss over what they've gone through, either. This adds a sense of harsh reality that makes the story appealing on a variety of levels, for fully adult readers as well as for young adults; but the story doesn't focus on the negative. Furthermore, nothing is quite as it seems in any case...
Each of the main characters, in his or her own way, welcomes their entry into the Madrassa as a way to escape from their problems, if only temporarily. To their amazement, all are accepted, even though they just happened to have arrived in mid-term, during a free-for-all recruitment ceremony that takes place only every three years. Otherwise, students are recruited individually by the instructors. And because there are no coincidences in a world as magical as theirs, it's certain they were all drawn to the Madrassa for very good reasons.
It's clear that their time at the Madrassa has given them all a much-needed opportunity to start over...and a chance for some of them to heal, and discover that they're not nearly as worthless as they've been taught they are. I won't reveal who those individuals are here, but they're not necessarily the ones you might think from my brief descriptions. These are vivid, well-rounded characters: some too smooth for their own good, some prickly and cocky, some more repressed than they should be -- and all just a tad confused and uncertain about where they belong in the world. Edun spends much of the novel exploring their personalities as well as their reactions to the weird and wonderful, so by the end of the novel they're like comfortable old friends.
I think you'll enjoy their adventures as they learn more about the Madrassa and themselves, and face the ultimate challenge: boring classes. (We've all been there!) The next book, "Casbah Guardian," is promised us in May 2013. Personally, I can't wait to get to know these five kids better, because as exciting as this story is, the next one promises to be even more so!
on March 13, 2013
~I was given this book for an honest review.~
I don't really know where to being when it comes to writing this review. I found that I was having a rather difficult time getting into the story. Things didn't flow well with all the character jumping and place hoping. I understand that the author was trying to give us an introduction to those that will be in the story, but I think it could have be done a little better. The opening of a story is very important, and making it confusing and hard to get into, will get readers giving up before the story really starts.
Once you get past the opening chapters and all the pov/place switching the story starts to get interesting. So those of you who are thinking about reading this book, you should stay with it despite the awkward start.
However with that being said, I found it to be a little flat at times. The pages are moving yet we are getting no where. Things are missing in the story, they get mentioned but nothing comes of it. But as it is the first in a series, I guess the author was leaving things for the next books.
Did I find it interesting enough to want to continue with the series?
I'm interested enough to find out what happens to some of the students. Vedaris, for example I would like to know more of him.
Over all concept for the story was enjoyable centering around a school for the magically gifted. Harry Potter fans would enjoy. Algardis has potential to be an good series.
Red Madrassa is a magic school, of sorts, where 5 teens unexpectedly find themselves enrolling. Having showed up by accident, and operating incognito, when assumed to be there to take entrance exams, they're like `sure! yeah, that's me...'
We have our [possibly] main character, Allorna, who is the daughter of some important guard guy, and she is supposed to guard the Prince but she doesn't like him.
Her friend Sidimo is a healer without healing powers, and together they rescue...
Maride from possible execution for murder (they believe him to be innocent). During their escape they try to use a portal and end up near...
Sitara who is a difference race? maybe? who also went through a portal kind of by accident, and they carry her unconscious form to the Madrassa where she is put in with...
Vedaris, who was aboard a ship and ended up here mysteriously. Also, Vedaris is a dragon.
So... as you can see, the author sets this book up for a lot of mystery and action. What is this world? What are the other races and where did they come from? Each character has their own individual drama, and are a piece of something bigger and more mysterious.
Unfortunately, I didn't feel like the book delivered on all that set-up and tension. You are introduced to 5 different characters and their backgrounds rather abruptly (in short prologue sections), then we get some action in the beginning... then nothing happens. The whole book is spent going over each character's entrance exam and classes (separately).
I found I didn't really care about any one character because it was bouncing around between them too much. I didn't care what each kid did in their class, not really.
Also, the classes were like 5 minutes long. The teacher would be like `hi class, this is our material' and then they would be dismissed. (Sometimes this was done on purpose. Most times not, I think.)
Through the classes you are introduced to more of the world, the problem is that nothing has happened so far that you can relate to all this cool stuff, making it useless cool stuff :(
At the start of the book, I couldn't tell how old any of the characters were (except Allorna), I didn't really realize it was a kid's book. Well, it might be Young Adult, but compared to something like for example the Circle of Magic, I found it rather childish.
Red Madrassa promises a big huge world with lots going on... but they you're stuck at this school with these teenagers, and that's kind of painful. It's like the start of a long series of short books in which little happens. I really liked the cover, so this was a bit disappointing. I would not seek out the sequel, but young readers may enjoy the elaborate world around Red Madrassa.
(Read as an eBook on Kindle.)
on April 14, 2013
From my blog On Starships and Dragonwings
I decided to read Red Madrassa because, let's be honest, look at that cover!!! It's freaking gorgeous! I just wish I could have gotten a physical copy to drool over ;-). I have to say that I adored the beginning of Red Madrassa, even if it took me a little bit to get all the characters straight in my head, and while I was a bit disappointed at the sudden ending, I think Harry Potter fans might like this magical school adventure :). I received a copy of Red Madrassa for a book tour.
Title: Red Madrassa
Author: Terah Edun
Length: 244 pages
Genre-ish: YA fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆- awesome start, slipped at the end
Red Madrassa has a full cast of interesting characters with a wide range of backgrounds included various races and sexual orientations, yey diversity in fantasy for once!
The writing was so readable and compelling! No matter what was happening in the plot, I still found Red Madrassa fun to read, which is saying something since sometimes the kids were just taking classes, haha.
There were some nice editions to the typical schools of magic, including an unknown/innate type which was pretty cool to learn about :D.
There was a mystery that was introduced in the beginning of Red Madrassa, but the characters didn't really do much to try to solve it and didn't have a hand in resolving the plot tension. It just sort of resolves itself....
No real action happens in the last half of Red Madrassa until the veeerrrry end, since the kids were mostly just going to class. Don't get me wrong, classes are great, but I really wanted the book to continue for another hundred pages at least to give me a nice epic conclusion.
There were several times where the pronouns really confused me and may not have been grammatically correct. Especially when there are so many characters, it probably would be better to use more specific identifiers than "he" and "she" given that there are multiple of those in a room pretty much all the time ;-).
Red Madrassa had a great start as a magical school adventure, but it felt like it needed to be a bit longer in order to capture that young kids saving the day adventure that we all love. It's no fun when the adults step in to do all the adventuring! Nonetheless, if you go in knowing what to expect and are looking for a light and diverse school-based fantasy, Red Madrassa is for you. I look forward to seeing what the next book holds, now that we've gotten the basics of the school out the way!
on November 28, 2012
The following review is based on the ebook edition of Red Madrassa from a librarything.com giveaway.
Terah Edun's Red Madrassa is best described as the set-up to what could be a really great fantasy adventure series. It's got world building, character introductions, and the beginning of an epic plot. Taken as the first book in a five-book series that it is, it's a fantastic introduction; as a stand-alone novel, however, it really left me wanting more (which could very well be a good thing, because now I can't wait for the next book in the series, Casbah Guardian!)
- The cover is gorgeous! I know YA books tend to have gorgeous covers, but Red Madrassa's cover is particularly magical, elegant, and inviting, not to mention that it's beautifully drawn.
- Edun has built a very interesting world. She's clearly been influenced by her living in Sudan (madrassa, for instance, means "school" in Arabic), and the different types of magic and races (human, kith, dragons, etc) were a lot of fun to read about.
- There are A LOT of named characters in the book, and although it's a shame that many of them pop up only once or twice (granted, if all of them were recurring characters, it would be impossible to keep track of them!), I actually really liked all of their names. None of the characters are "one-scene wonders," but they are imbued with a little bit of personality, and their interesting names certainly add a bit of color to the story.
- Red Madrassa's main characters are all likeable. My favorites were Allorna, Maride, and Sidimo, but I didn't find any of the five main characters (or even any of the side characters) to be gratingly angsty or hateful or mary sue-like.
- One of the greatest parts of this book is the character diversity. We've got different races, different types of magic, different backgrounds, and different motives, and it's fun to see how all of these factors affect the way the characters interact with each other. I was also impressed with the Edun's LGBT-inclusiveness. It's becoming more common to add that sort of diversity in YA books (although there's still room for improvement), but Edun approaches the topic in a subtle, completely accepting way that I found to be well-suited for the story.
- No sappy romance! I imagine there will be more romance in later books (there's a little bit of build-up in this one), but it's nice to see a YA book that isn't filled to the brim with teenagers falling head-over-heels for each other.
- The first few chapters of the book were really confusing. Although I usually enjoy the use of different character POVs because it gives everyone a chance to have his/her voice heard, it really only works if the characters are given enough of an introduction to define them and distinguish them from everyone else. The characters were different, clearly, but until they actually started meeting up, I was confused about the roles they played in their own stories (not to mention the overall plot). I think the book would be much more inviting if the characters were each given a chapter to introduce themselves and give some insight into their roles.
- As much as I hate to say it, there was a sad lack of plot in this book. At first I thought it would be a "swash-buckling adventure," what with three characters on the run from the law, but then it turned into more of a Hogwarts-type adventure, only without any of the mystery. This can be forgiven because it's the first book in the series, and most of it was spent detailing the characters' lives at The Madrassa, but I really hope the second book picks up the pace a bit.
- I wish the book were longer! The book wasn't short by any means, but because it was split to give five characters near-equal "screen time" (is there a word for that in the print media world?), I was left wanting to know a lot more about the characters by the end! I would have loved to get more background information (especially on Allorna, Maride and Sidimo), and I can only hope later books will give more detail.
Overall (especially considering the price), I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Harry Potter and Charlie Bone. Assuming the plot picks up in later books, I would also recommend the series to YA fantasy fans in general. Personally, I'm super excited for the next one!
on February 24, 2013
I really wanted to like this book. It had a lot of potential. The characters and plot started off so interesting. The language was good and editing adequate. But, there were too many loose ends, meandering tangents, and unanswered questions. Even allowing that there are more books in this series, it just is too unsatisfying to have so many plot twists languish unexplored. Its not that this book was terrible, but it left me feeling like it could have been so much better.
on March 7, 2013
The concept for this book is really interesting and kind of Harry Potterish. I loved the young adult world the author was able to create and the fantasy woven storyline.
There is a multitude of characters and different points of view that get sprung on the reader in the first few chapters making the reading a little confusing. Once you are able to get past that it is a quick and fun read. The four teenagers, Allorna, Sidimo, Vedaris, and Sitara were easy to relate to. The relationships throughout the book were well done and believable.
Overall, it was a greatly enjoyable read and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
Note: I won this book from LibraryThing Member Giveaways. All thoughts are my honest opinion!