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Red Madrassa: Algardis #1 Paperback – December 10, 2012
"Full of intrigue and interesting characters!" ~ Insomnia of Books Reviews
"Full of adventure, magic, and a wee bit of romance." ~ Emma Snow Reviews
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Top customer reviews
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.
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 ^^
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!
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