I made a return visit the the sci-fi / fantasy realm with this weeks read. Xenosaber, Fury of the Stars by Jedaiah Ramnarine is a fast paced adventure, positioned to be the foundation for a future series.
The language of this book feels almost foreign, or otherworldly, which adds to the sensation that it is of another time, another world. Ramnarine has created some very nice characters, with personalities and solid voices. Jaival is our hero, but he is helped on his quest by several characters that try to teach him what he needs to know. Arya, the stunningly beautiful Princess, Sorata, the Oracle and witch, Baldr, the wayward Prince, King Tyr, aloof and royal, and Mikael, the teacher. He has also created some truly terrifying creatures. Xenosaber is full to brimming with elves and guardians, dark lords and princess', oracles, long held secrets, drifters, magical weapons, unltimate power for good or ill, epic battles, and unexpected heroes and heroines.
Xenosaber reads, in the beginning as Zelda fan fiction, with a shape shifting demigoddess who guides our hero to the land of Eiri, much like Link has in his adventures. I liked the little tributes to Zelda, it made the otherworly quality less foreign, familiar touches in the landscape of Star World. The beautiful Princess Arya certainly put me in mind of the Princess Zelda, but only in her appearance. Once I got past all the opening descriptors all the Zelda influences disappated and the characters took on a life of their own. Arya is not damsel in distress, she is strong and defiant and willing to face her fears with the best of them. Jaival is not just another "chosen hero" but a conflicted soul fighting his own need for revenge to do what is right. Many threads run through this book, with the distinct sense that time and souls move in circular fashion guided by destiny. I liked that Ramnarine pulled in things that felt nostalgic in this futuristic novel.
Once the cast of characters is all set the novel flows in rapid succession. The battles build and
climax and the structure of the conflict takes shape. It is a classic tale of a good boy gone bad, of a son lost, of light versus dark, of secrets and answers. An ancient evil threatens the land of Eiri, and Jaival and Arya are the spearheads to return the Star World to balance. Ramnarine is descriptive in the action sequences, which are elaborate, precise, and sometimes lengthy. We move rapidly from one adventure to the next Ramnarine barely allows the reader a breath between, building to the ultimate battle. Every time I thought I knew where this book was going the author shunted me off in a different direction with a twist here and a turn there. It's so densely packed that you'll want to take your time reading it to fully appreciate the small details Ramnarine has included. I really enjoyed that his characters were both stong and weak at times and that sometimes a hero had to be saved by a heroines.
If this sci-fi/fantasy is your genre, you won't want to miss Ramnarine's Xenosaber, Fury in the Stars. It is solidly written.