on May 18, 2014 :
Fascinating, a totally unique new voice. Qui'Tai, is the 'Devil's Concubine', a position she owes as favor to the devil for giving her vital information when she needed it to take revenge for a horrific family tragedy.
Fantastic world building seduces the reader into a magical, wonderfully wrought environment, part Asian, part ancient, part steampunk, part European. The thought and imagination necessary to conjure such magnificence is almost mind-boggling, it is utterly beautiful, original and fan-worthy.
Qui'Tai, is a snake-shifter, and lover to the most important, Alpha-Male, werewolf on the island she inhabits. She is also far more intelligent than him, and runs his criminal-drug-distribution-ring with skill and cunning. She is the female lead every would-be-famous movie director has ever visualized. Also, she sees the future with the aid of the Oracle who is the goddess of her people the Ponongese. Culture, protocol and tradition are so carefully structured, that even a greeting, akin to 'How are you", is reproduced.('have you eaten today, auntie?').
Only in our 'economically challenged publisher decade' would we find an author of this calibre, Indie: in any other time she would be touted as the 'New Tolkien', the book as the 'New Narnia'. However, even those books do not do what this one does. Here, we find a truly modern woman, a woman every young girl can, and will want to identify with... A woman who is the master of her own destiny, but can still love, lust and live under a cloud of mixed emotions so 'Today' in their complexity.
In addition, we find our dream of who we would like to be in this novel, but that is not its only trump-card. No, there is mystery, suspense, action, terror, deep emotion, and a world-altering-love story at its core. The protagonists, (from Pertof, The Devil, to Kyam, the arrogant, intelligent, off-limits Thampurian), are so sharply layered that you'll find yourself saying 'Oh, yeah, I know someone just like that even if they're not a Sea-Dragon'. Yes, Qui'Tai, the snake, loves a Sea-Dragon, soooo WOW...
Qui'Tai, has been betrayed, jilted and led astray. Nevertheless, her intelligence, savvy, and un-utterable style, set her apart from your average bad-ass, ruthless female protagonist, Qui'Tai has a conscience, and she loves and wants to save her enslaved people: The Ponongese are colonized by the Thampurians, creating political intrigue as a backdrop for the steamy, deliciously, slow-burning romance between, Qui'Tai, the lowly Ponongese, and Kyam Zul, the 'high-born' under-cover colonel, Thampurian.
The plot develops a spectacular suspense between three nations, all of whom are hell-bent on seizing control-- the Thampurians, Ponongese and the Ravidians.
Imagine if your enemy had discovered a weapon as powerful as the A-bomb, and you had only a bow-and-arrow to defend yourself with, then imagine a heroine who can come up with a conquering plan. All this set in a land of lush forests, overlooking azure or emerald seas, balanced under a moody sky which alternately blushes orange, pink, lilac or Monsoon-gray--a breathtaking vista, lusciously constructed by sparkling prose, which is almost poetically perfect.
This is so much more than 'average' that you will want to devour the series in one sitting. Bravo! Jill Braden.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)
on May 8, 2014 :
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author for her generosity.
A great read set in a place not many would think to use. I was a tad hesitant at first about the book, but the first few pages sucked me in. The heroine is feisty, intelligent, and crafty. While she is described as being a concubine, the love/sex angle is downplayed. It’s refreshing for an author to not make it one of the main themes.
The tropical/jungle setting, along with the addition of sea dragons and snake people, gives an added bonus. The heroine, Qui Tai, has many layers which are slowly revealed over the course of the story. The descriptions of the world and the people who inhabit it made me feel as if I was there along side them.
I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series.
(reviewed 17 days after purchase)