Book Review: A Flight of Marewings

marewings-cover-md by Kristen S Walker

Description from Author: Korinna’s life gets turned upside down when the ghost of her father suddenly appears. Her father was duke of Kyratia City and he wanted Korinna to marry his warlord, the foreign mercenary Galenos, and inherit his title–but the city’s Council has other plans. When the Council denies Korinna’s right to rule, she decides to join Galenos’s mercenary company and tame a wild marewing in order to take the city by force. But people whisper that the late duke’s untimely death was murder, an induced madness that forced him to dance himself to death–and now that madness is spreading. Can Korinna become a marewing rider and conquer Kyratia in time to save everyone?

Book Review: This book reminded me of a cross between Othello and The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. The warlord, Galenos, is a very dark-skinned man of war who must deal with cultural ostracization while dreaming of leading the city he loves into a new, better era…and while falling in love with the much fairer-skinned, natural daughter of the duke.

And then, there are small, flying dragons and large, winged mares which, while they lack the sense of humor of McCaffrey’s great dragons, made life less complicated in other ways (since they are all mares, there is no mating issues to deal with, and thus no human-dragon sexual assault/encounters).

Overall, it was a very fun, intriguing book, laced with political intrigue, and I’m very glad the author introduced me to the world of Wyld Magic. Here’s a closer look at the Narration, Content, Characters, Artwork, World Building, and my Overall Response.

Narration: Three out of Five. There was enough descriptive details for me to get an idea of the setting, but given the richness of the world of Kyratia, I really felt like we could’ve gotten so much more. When Galenos takes Korinna to a market, we should’ve had the tastes, the sounds, the feels, the smells, and a much richer cultural experience. Admittedly, the narration is consistent, and about on par with Anne McCaffrey’s in this respect, but I felt like, given the multicultural flavor of the story, we were missing out a bit.

Content: Four out of Five. The content was very effective and unobjectionable, I thought, making this book a great choice for the Young Adult market. There is a romance, but it’s of the “fade-to-black” variety. The novel also explores men’s and women’s roles in life, what it means to be free,  and the inadvertent narrow-mindedness one can have when one doesn’t grow up around people of other ethnicities and backgrounds. And, while the beginning of a series, you aren’t left hanging. The major plot threads are all wrapped up by the end.

The only downside, for me, was how much time was spent with the political intriguers, the villains of the story. They got their own point-of-view scenes and, while it added to the richness of the world, felt like it didn’t really advance the plot. Everything that happened in that story thread got explored, in turn, in Galenos and Korinna’s threads, and so it felt like it was a bit redundant. (But then, since I’m not a fan of political intrigue, it could just be me.)

Characters: Three out of Five. Again, because of the looser version of third person narration we have in this novel, it feels like we only get to know the characters to a certain point. We come to understand Korrinna and Galenos quite a bit, but some of the other supporting characters–like a mage who helps investigate the cause of the late duke’s death–get only periphery emotional treatment. Given the amount of page-time and plot significance these characters have, I felt that they should’ve been fleshed out more. (And, if the extra time given to exploring the political intrigue had been given to them, I think it would’ve made the novel that much stronger.)

Artwork: Subjective. The cover art felt a little too cartoon or graphic art-esque for me, and I didn’t feel like it matched the world of the story. With the ancient city-states, the almost Greek flavor of the novel, I felt like there should’ve been more majesty in the horses. more rock and sand, more of the grapes that play a significant symbolic place in the plot, and that the Wyld should’ve been represented by something other than a stately tree. Also, the font looks very medieval, to me (with the “t” in “Flight” looking like a cross, almost), and this might suggest the wrong tone, entirely.

World-Building: Four out of Five. This was undeniably one of the strongest parts of the book. Even while it seemed to borrow heavily from other books, it was inventive and felt consistent–similar but not stolen.

We got to see a wide range of the land, from the farms to the mercenaries training ground, but we didn’t dwell on the minutiae. Everything was painted in fairly broad strokes, with details smuggled in that supported the world without belaboring the story, and it made me eager to go back and explore more, to learn more about the other city-states, the religions, and the culture.

Overall Response: Fourteen out of Twenty, or 3.5 overall. I definitely wouldn’t judge this book by its cover, or by its description, as there is much more inside than the blurb suggests.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed The Dragonriders of Pern (provided they aren’t expecting the same level of humor). Its version of a fantasy world, while sharing factors with others that have come before, was still unique enough to be interesting, and its execution, while not amazing or astounding, was solid enough to be enjoyable.

Copyright 2016 Andrea Lundgren

Photo used by Author’s Permission

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