Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: March 2010
Publisher: Pale Criminal Works
Book Site: http://www.bookmasters.com/marktplc/02917.htm#summary
My Rating: 3.75/5
Source: Received for review from Pump Up Your Book
Halíth presents the fantastical world of Aessyra where prophesy tells of an evil brewing and only “the One” can stop it. Halíth’s journey begins when she steals away from an impending marriage to a fat merchant, deemed by her uncle to be a good match. In a fit of passion, she runs away in the deep of night, with nothing to her name, and is soon transformed from a scared 16 year old girl to a young warrior ready to answer her fate. In the beginning, Halíth embraces her new adventurous lifestyle focusing on fighting battles, learning the trades of the Dwarves, and drinking and making merriment in local taverns. Soon; however, Halíth’s true test of maturity comes when the Great War finally breaks out across Aessyra. The Haddu, a coalition of Orcs, trolls, and others faithful to a demonic religion, are swarming over the land, seeking to usher in the Third Darkness. Halith must grapple with challenges within and without as she dodges assassins, endures the betrayal of those closest to her, and tries to make sense of her so-called “destiny.”
I haven’t read many fantasy quest novels yet but I’m slowly working on adding more of the genre into my reading. Halith isn’t an epic tale by any means but it successfully transported me into another world without over-complicating things for me. Even if the map of Aessyra wasn’t provided for reference I still wouldn’t have felt lost. Kirsten does a remarkable job describing the different parts of Halith’s world and all of the characters she comes into contact with. I will admit that the novel started out a bit awkwardly for me though. After spending four years at an abbey Halith is sent to live with her uncle but chooses to run away from nobility life. She spends a great deal of time worrying about others (including the reader) thinking her a wayward brat for running away. I kind of admired and liked the fact that she was determined to make sure people knew the reasons for her actions. She doesn’t want to spend her life as a broodmare. She has a calling to be a warrior just like her father, the High King.
Now that is all fine and dandy, absolutely no issues there for me. But one or two chapters later Halith does this 180-turnaround thing. I respect that she wants to be a warrior, even in Halith’s world women warriors are very rare, but her personality shifts a little too quickly from shy and timid to fierce warrior-girl/woman. The transitioning just kind of smacked me in the face a little bit. But soon after her 180 freak-out Halith started to really grow on me. The middle part of the book consists of her on different missions, meeting different people, and discovering who she is. It reminded me of quest-like video games (which I love to play). Every time she completed something it seemed some other issue would pop up for her to deal with. Although I’m sure if was frustrating for her character, I rather enjoyed it!
Something I really personally liked in the book was the violence. Weird, I know, but let me explain. The violence wasn’t sugarcoated or tip-toed around. It also wasn’t blown out of proportions with blood and guts flying in every direction. It was written just right where it was realistic and bold. It was a part of the book I really appreciated. I also loved the characters, especially the female ones. While Halith meets many different male characters that she becomes close with and/or enemies with, it was the different female characters that grabbed my attention. They sort of formed this motley crew of strong girls/women that were independent and strong yet still needed support from one another. I loved the fact that they were so different and yet fit together nicely like a puzzle.
The ending was a little disappointing for me just because I enjoyed the middle of the book so much. I appreciated that Kristen kept up the camaraderie between characters until the very end though. I just felt everything was a little too rushed for my tastes. I still really enjoyed Halith overall. The tale is one of self-discovery and independence. Halith has not only solid enemies but unseen ones as well as she must battle a prophecy laid before her and a fate she’s determined to undermine. I’m really interested to see what Kristen will come out with next and if in fact Halith will have a sequel or at least be revisited in another book. I think adventure fans and/or fantasy fans will really like Halith and Kristen’s writing.
P.S. (Cover Talk)
It’s fitting. I like the depiction of Halith, although what she’s wearing could go a little better with how her outfit was described in the book. I like the cover though.