Wednesday, October 21, 2015

BOOK REVIEW - When They Shine Brightest


Author: Yordan Zhelyazkov - 
Format: Kindle ebook. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Amazon link here.
Did it feel like a full novel: yes
Cliffhanger: No; satisfactory end for the book though sets up for a great series.
Genre: fantasy, young adult
Dates Read: Oct 3-7, 2015
Official Blurb: Korsak Dryshore, a middle-aged war veteran, is being held directly responsible for the invasion of his home town of Seten. Everyone in Seten, including his family, blames him for losing the last ditch defense against the aggressors. Utterly defeated, and mourning the loss of his eldest son in the conflict, he has spent the last months following the battle away from home. Upon his return, he has to confront the animosity of the populace, made even worse by his bringing a heathen girl back with him.
Beaten, downcast and in despair, he is resigned to merely spending the remainder of his days in meek quietude. That would prove impossible, however, as he's soon implicated in an escalating political and religious conflict within the city. To make matters worse, his youngest son and the foreign girl are dragged deep into the whirlwind of the crisis.

And in the meantime, They are about to set over Seten.

One sentence: Fantastic new character-driven fantasy with deep world-building.

Review: This book felt very different, and in an overall good way. I haven't gotten to read a book translated from another language in a long time, and I could really feel the differences from culture and language. Mostly in a positive manner. Granted, some of the sentences were a bit hard to grasp until you reread them, or the grammar/word choice was awkward, but nothing that really hurt the experience of reading this novel. 

The 'hero' is Korsak, a veteran who's been through quite a lot and has lost the respect of his wife and pretty much his entire home city. You can tell he's more than fed up, but he keeps on going. I really, really, REALLY liked him! Arty is a little girl whom he brought with him, and though they actually interact only sparingly when you consider the entire book, you can feel how close they are. It's really sweet, and its description was one of the main reasons I thought it'd be a book I would enjoy. Arty is adorable, and deals with the crap that comes her way admirably.

The world building is smooth, not just an info-dump, and quite rich. There are things that I didn't understand fully, but it wasn't so much as to be annoying. Their culture feels historical though I would say it's more fantasy, which I really enjoyed. The religious aspects are rich, even if you may not have the full story of their beliefs. 

It's a very original tale, and I really relished how it didn't follow the patterns of similar themed novels. There's a lot of interaction amongst the characters, but they grow and change because of themselves, not just predictable situations with each other. I would like to read the next book in this series. The end of the story surprised me in a way, and I am not quite sure if I like it. I mean, I liked the story, but I'm not sure if I liked having my heart wrenched about ;] Well, maybe a little, because it shows how attached I became to the way the characters were written!

If you're looking for something new and different, I really suggest you give this novel a try! 

Rating: 5 stars

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