estara: (Default)
Basically a day after I finished the first book, the second one arrived and I can see now why Sherwood wrote on her LJ that this was actually one big book. It starts right after the end of the first one (so no explanations for readers who come in later, which I actually prefer in my series books).

Sasha remains cautious and the hero keeps kicking himself (deservedly) for screwing up by keeping too many secrets when he met her. Not being a villain he lets her go (but sets one of his trusted friends to track and help her).
Twice a Prince (Sasharia En Garde)

I love the fact that the friend/spy loses her soon after, due to weather and not any special skills by Sasha. I love it when she loses her way out of inexperience, is happy to be rescued from a storm at a military camp of the king and leaves in the morning without ever thinking about the consequences of a report about her showing up (she does use a false name, but her few treasures clearly show the connection to the old royal house). The villainous usurper also does not want to kill the heroine in this one (yay!), he wants her to marry his son and continues to want this (and to try to send his son to find her and woo her, as the prince's supposedly a real ladies' man).
... )
estara: (Default)
How rare and delightful: two excellent books read in two days (and not just rare because my eye trouble isn't over yet, only lying low for a while). And they're very different too, so they don't take away from each other.

Once a Princess (Sasharia En Garde)


Once a Princess - now out in print - is part of Smith's overarching Satorias-deles world and set in a time which previous books have already touched on (although I don't think there were any familiar faces so far, the one truly mysterious group showing up obviously has ties to characters we already know, but I haven't read about them yet), which makes certain references to military training or the inheritance of magic powers much easier to understand (I do have a feeling that the situation and flair of the hero had quite a bit similarity to Vidanric of Crown Duel, but as we get pov from him as well it's not as frustrating for the reader as it was then).
... )
estara: (Default)
The author I've bought most books of this year - except for Elizabeth Bear - has been Sherwood Smith with the novels published in her own worlds (she's been a long-time collaborator of some great names in the scifi genre and has written media-tie-in novels, as well) - whether they have been YA or not.

I first came across her a few years back with an entry in Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction by the Firebird YA imprint and right away bought Crown Duel, as her story was a sequel of that. I then ordered the Wren trilogy published by Firebird and quite liked the first two volumes. I bounced off the third because it started with an irreparable tragedy for one of the major characters who already had to suffer from something similar for years and I couldn't handle reading about having to deal with this and the aftermath.

That's actually one of her strengths: her books may have focus protagonists but no matter what age those are, child or grown-up, there are no guarantees that they will survive to the end (with the exception - so far - that if she names the book after that protagonist they haven't died yet). Her young adult worlds are just as hazardous, although the characters there go at their troubles and triumphs with less gray-scale in feeling (sometimes: this is not the case if your parents have died and you are heir to a throne), and more positive energy.

However, even if a character whom the reader loves dies, there's a good chance that they still have other characters to root for without hurling the book at the wall. Smith's books are always ensemble pieces with some starring roles sticking out. She manages to make even the side-characters so interesting and relevant when she highlights their role in her world/plot that you don't mind spending the time with them - there are no fillers, at the end you realise every bit of focus was necessary for you to see and appreciate the whole.
Review of all Inda books released by DAW so far )

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