Review: Asena Blessed by Tracy M Joyce
Publisher: Odyssey Books, Canberra
Epic fantasy book 2 of a series and before you start, book 3 isn't due out until 2017. If you're reading this review and it is 2017; perfect! You won't have long to wait. If you're in 2018, even better, no wait at all. You may as well buy book 3 at the same time as no. 2 because waiting is terrible! You are not going to want to wait.
I'm starting with the end in this review. I approached the last few chapters of Asena Blessed with trepidation. You know the feeling when you just don't want the story to end? As the number of pages left to read dwindled at an increasingly rapid rate, I realised that the end was way too close. But I couldn't stop reading or even slow down. I had to know what happened.
Tracy is such a great writer. If you love epic fantasy, you are going to love the Chronicles of Altaica of which Asena Blessed is the second in the series. The characters and the journeys they take in life are well thought out and the actions scenes are fabulous!
To get back to the beginning: Asena Blessed carries on from Altaica (book one) with the story of Isaura. Isaura has grown up as the outsider in her close knit village. Different colour skin, different background, and family from a different part of the world all together. She has a small group of friends who protect and are wary of her at the same time. When war comes to the village (as inevitably it must, this is epic fantasy after all), the villagers including Isaura and friends must flee. In so doing, they all become refugees in a strange land. Asena Blessed takes up their story of rescue and forced assimilation and the rising of Isaura from isolated outsider to someone who finds power. She is the Asena Blessed.
This is the part where I want to gush about what happens, Isaura nearly dies, is brought back, discovers she has new power, can talk to wolves.... But I really don't want to give it all away.
Needless to say, Tracy has produced a story with plenty of action and enough detail for readers to be swept into a whole new world. The characters have plenty of flaws (perfect characters are so boring), the descriptions are spot on (no exposition), and the fight scenes are excellently choreographed.
I can well imagine cosplayers outfitting themselves as Isaura or Karan or Beldev or Asha and striding around a con in full battle gear.
If you're of analytic frame of mind, you'll probably be interested in how Tracy handles issues of racism, gender relations, sexism, bullying, and grief. It's all there and really shows this as a modern story pushing through barriers. If you've picked up the book and just want to jump right in to a rollicking read, you have exactly the right book in your hands.
Here's the disclaimer. Tracy and I are fellow authors at Odyssey Books and friends. That hasn't influenced my review though. I was brought up on the premise that if you haven't got anything nice to say then just keep your bloody trap shut. Asena Blessed is definitely worth opening my trap about.
Now that you've read my review, you'll want to know where you can purchase a copy for yourself. Aussies can download it from Amazon.com.au and everyone else from the Amazoned country where you have your account. It's also available from Booktopia, Book Depository and, probably, whichever is your online book store of choice, including the Odyssey Books website. If you prefer the experience of shopping in a real world bookshop where you can see, touch and smell books of all shapes and sizes, you may have to ask for it. Don't be shy. Ask away!
Tracy often appears at book expos, Supanova and other cons. Look for the Odyssey Books stand and drop by for a chat.
If you're not convinced yet, check out this awesome trailer:
Patricia Leslie is an Aussie urban fantasy author with Odyssey Books. Her novels, The Ouroboros Key, and, A Single Light, deal with the major issues of today like mystical magical beings living deep in Colorado's Rocky Mountains and hungry vampire-like spirits devouring the population of southern Sydney. Evil powers abound in her next novel set in Sydney and Scotland in the 1800s. Patricia enjoys the research as much as the writing so pay no mind to middle aged women with cameras wandering around Sydney. It could very well be Patricia Leslie hunting down heritage buildings and their stories.
Drop in on Patricia's strand of the World Wide Web and catch up on her adventures by joining her Readers Group (yes, this is a rather desperate and obvious ploy for subscribers). www.patricialeslie.net