Or: An Unsolicited, Bias-Free Review
Over the next few weeks, I will be helping to review and promote my fellow authors ... two of which have something interesting in common: they each use their initials in place of their first name. Maybe there's something to it, because both their books are fantastic!
This week's review is for R. R. Willica's debut novel, Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves. It is the first of a trilogy, following the political intrigue and tensions of Sa'Toret-Ekar, an Empire in a world which knits together elements of traditional fantasy and dystopian science fiction. Sa'Toret Ekar was ravaged by a plague in recent years, and in order to survive, its Emperor set forth a very strict rule system which puts the royal family in a high, heavily-guarded tower to look down upon its struggling subjects below.
The main character, Impyra, makes a startling entrance when she falls from the tower at the feet of Imperial guard Brosen. Startled to find her still alive, Brosen brings Impyra to a hospital, and from there, their journeys become intertwined in more ways than even they know. Soon enough, they are on a wild, breakneck chase out of Sa'Toret-Ekar, in search of the fabled Resistance which will help them right the Empire's corruption... and maybe help explain the unique abilities which made Impyra the prince's slave.
R.R. Willica does several things right with this first novel. First, she grabs our attention right away and holds on tight. I didn't know too much about Brosen and Impyra when they were introduced, but their circumstances made me want to follow them anyway. Along theway, more is revealed, and the allies and enemies they meet are just as well-developed, with quirks and flaws that make them compelling to read about. Spoiled, angry prince Xander, spunky and impulsive Sheyra, and the enigmatic Garinsith are just a few of the people I grew invested in ... even the supporting cast are memorable, and the plot weaves the threads of their lives together in ways that surprised me, even as the plot and its themes felt as familiar as a favorite old story. It is hard to make a story equal parts new and familiar, but R.R. Willica has done a fine job of it.
My only concern with Soldiers and Slaves is that it had a large number of typographical errors and missing words... but the story and the characters were its saving grace. Those who know me are well aware that I am a stickler for grammar and spelling ... so it is really a compliment to the novel that I not only continued reading it to the end regardless, but still absolutely loved it. The second installment, Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker, is due out on June 18th, and I'll be waiting in line for it to see how the cliffhanger ending of Soldiers and Slaves resolves itself!
Please join me next Wednesday, when I'll have news from my friends at Writers Helping Writers!
Until then, have a fantastic week!
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