Lisa J. Yarde
Lisa J. Yarde writes fiction inspired by the Middle Ages in Europe. She is the author of two historical novels set in medieval England and Normandy, On Falcon’s Wings, featuring a star-crossed romance between Norman and Saxon lovers before the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and The Burning Candle, based on the life of one of the first countesses of Leicester and Surrey, Isabel de Vermandois. Lisa has also written four novels in a six-part series set in Moorish Spain, Sultana, Sultana’s Legacy, Sultana: Two Sisters, and Sultana: The Bride Price where rivalries and ambitions threaten the fragile bonds between members of the last Muslim dynasty to rule in Europe. Her short story, The Legend Rises, chronicles the Welsh princess Gwenllian of Gwynedd's valiant fight against twelfth-century English invaders and is available now.
Born in Barbados, Lisa currently lives in New York City. She is also an avid blogger and moderates at Unusual Historicals. She is also a contributor at Historical Novel Reviews and History and Women. Her personal blog is The Brooklyn Scribbler.
Learn more about Lisa and her writing at the website www.lisajyarde.com. Follow her on Twitter or become a Facebook fan. For information on upcoming releases and freebies from Lisa, join her mailing list at http://eepurl.com/un8on.
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Smashwords book reviews by Lisa J. Yarde
on March 15, 2011
“You now have a choice, and it will take great courage to choose the right. From this moment on, you will be walking the path between who you are now and who you were born to be. All I am asking you to do is let yourself make the journey….” – Arathor’s letter to Kieran, Eldala
In Eldala by Michelle Gregory, Kieran, the orphaned heir to the throne of Teleria discovers the truth of his origins in a letter from his father King Arathor. When Kieran discovers the truth behind his identity, he goes on a quest to recapture his father's kingdom, and find the childhood friend he lost. Little does he know that she is key to unlocking his destiny.
As a baby, Kieran becomes the adoptive son of a blacksmith. His father, King Arathor asks the man to shelter the child from the kingdom’s enemies. On his twentieth birthday, Kieran discovers his unexpected heritage. Although he angrily rejects the truth at first, after Kale produces Arathor’s sword, Kieran is hard-pressed to obstinately deny the past. He has seen the long-hidden weapon in his dreams. Another image from the past also haunts him; the memory of a dark-eyed friend, Jessara, who was lost to raiders in the forest during their childhood. Prompted by memories of her loss, Kieran assists a young woman against a brutal soldier and must flee to avoid the authorities. He reluctantly seeks out Arathor, with his mischievous foster cousin as a companion. Along their journey, Kieran discovers the dangers of the world outside his village. When a beast attacks his cousin in a cave where the young men have sought shelter, Kieran soon learns that their rescuer is his father Arathor. It is Keiran’s destiny to restore Telaria to its former glory, and unite its warring factions under a king’s rule. His quest may also allow him to discover Jessara’s fate and rescue her. But before he can do that, Arathor’s enemies capture him.
Eldala is as much Jessara’s story as it is Kieran’s. Although she was prepared for marriage with her relative Stefan from childhood, Jessara’s chance meeting with Kieran changed her. It is a mysterious, yet deep connection that has persisted despite the time and distance between them. Now, Jessara lives a miserable existence as a slave in the palace of the usurper Rahnak, whose lust frightens her. His queen Ciara is especially dangerous and volatile. When a wounded stranger arrives at the palace, seemingly destined for marriage with Ciara’s daughter, Jessara nurses him back to health. She also feels a powerful pull toward him, and recognizes it is Kieran. The pair has greater worries than an awkward reunion. Escape from Rahnak and Ciara’s clutches seems near impossible, and unless Jessara and Kieran can put aside their hesitancy and suspicions, their future and that of the Telarian people seems bleak.
As a fan of very limited areas in genre fiction, I surprisingly enjoyed exploring the fantasy world Ms. Gregory has created in Eldala. She accomplishes it by keeping the reader focused on the diverse cast of characters, especially the lovers. It helps that the chemistry between Jessara and Kieran is palpable and intense. Jessara is admirable for her unfailing courage and love for Kieran, despite the intervening years. The emotional journey that Kieran undertakes, in which he learns to be a fighter and a leader of many people, is inspiring – the coming-of-age for a young man who discovers he can be more that he ever anticipated. The characterization is very good; Kieran’s pain, suffering, confusion and joy laid bare on the pages of Ms. Gregory’s work allows the reader to intimately know his hopes and fears. I thoroughly enjoyed Kieran and Jessara’s journey, and hope to read more from Ms. Gregory in the future.
- Khamsin, The Devil Wind of The Nile
on Nov. 10, 2012
Inge H. Borg’s Khamsin, The Devil Wind of the Nile is a sprawling tale set in ancient Egypt before the epoch of pyramid building began. The heart of the conflict lies between two men, prince-turned-priest Ramose and Ebu al-Saqqara, the ambitious vizier to King Aha. Each knows powerful secrets that could destabilize the regime.
As the novel opens, a clash between Egypt and its neighbors looms. General Ali el-Barum receives word of a gold mine along the disputed border. Barum sends a message to his superior Grand General Makari, via the royal archer Pase. The chief priest Rahetep also learns of the same rich source and dispatches his aide, Tasar to another venerated high priest, Badar. Both couriers accomplish their goal, but their varied paths lead to fateful meetings and intended consequences. The vizier al-Saqqara intercepts Pase, who reaches the capital half-dead. Tasar’s arrival offers a rare glimpse into Aha’s royal household through the heiress Nefret, the king’s headstrong, beautiful daughter. Ramose watches over the young princess, orphaned by her mother in childbirth and by an easily manipulated king. On the pretext of initiating Nefret into her future position, Ramose prepares to confront enemies outside and within Egypt, while al-Saqqara attempts to secure his future. A slew of advisors, retainers and servants, each with their own loyalties and weaknesses, have roles to play in the two men’s schemes.
In his dual position as vizier and royal quartermaster, the chief minister al-Saqqara’s wants to rule Egypt in Aha’s place. He can dare claim an unwilling Nefret to secure his tenuous hold or extend his influence over her malleable brother and rival, Dubar. Ramose intends to protect the willful Nefret from herself and the vizier’s aims. The intricate maneuvers between the Ramose and al-Saqqara, as each tries to outwit the other, are engrossing. The novel’s other great strength lies is in the details of Egyptian life. The author shows great skill in portraying an ancient time. Every description feels authentic and transports readers to the period. While to her credit, the author provided detailed personalities and full backgrounds for each figure, at times the large cast of characters slowed the pace and generated some distracting POV switches.