Monday, 23 May 2016

#ReviewMonday with KM Lockwood: The Singing War (Novel II in the Assalay Trilogy) by Tracey Mathias

Note to self-publishers – we made an exception for this trilogy as it had already been published with success in translation in Germany. 
Summary from the author’s own website
    ‘What if they’ve lied to us about everything?’
    In the land of Assalay, the new year brings endless rain, hunger and the ravages of starving dragons. But the powerful families of the Fellowship enjoy a privileged life: secure inside their grand and luxurious houses and confident of their divine right to rule.
    Even for Fellowship children, though, growing up has its problems. Now that he is of age, Leo Philemot must leave home for the year-long apprenticeship that all heirs to the Fellowship have to undertake, while his twin sister Rachel must stay at home and endure the stifling life of ladies’ drawing rooms and tea-parties. For both twins, the year brings a series of unexpected encounters and revelations that makes them question what they have been told about family and Fellowship – and opens their eyes to the realities of other people’s lives.
    As flood, fire and famine worsen, Assalay is ready for rebellion, and opposition to the Fellowship is growing. In this gathering crisis, Leo and Rachel must make life or death choices between old and new loyalties and friendships: between what they have been taught and what they have learned.

254 pages in softback, also available on Kindle
Published by Canfield Dragon Press December 2015
Cover art by Tim Mathias
***
Tracey Matthias has pulled off quite a feat with this, the second part of her Assalay trilogy: a middle story which is actually better than the first. So many trilogies suffer a saggy middle that doesn’t live up to the expectations of the beginning – but this is different.
You don’t need to read the first novel ‘A Fragment of Moonswood’ to enjoy ‘The Singing War’ – but I would highly recommend it. Then the whole tale will have much more richness and depth. Those of you who have ventured into Assalay before will appreciate the mix of old and new characters within that well-drawn and immersive world.
It’s an absorbing mixture of action and beauty – lies and deceptions are revealed, narrow escapes are made, but the fabulous settings are not neglected. Perfect if you love such details as the sumptuous robes of the different Fellowship Houses (which do actually play a part in the plot). It is suggested for ages 10 -14, though many older readers may get a thrill from the strong political edge. That might sound dull – but the perils faced by the children in the story certainly are not.

I should warn you that a degree of cruelty and menace is involved – but without giving spoilers, the courage and resourcefulness of the central characters shine through. There’s a pleasingly light touch with the magical elements – and it does have a proper resolution. Still, you will have to know what happens next – happily ‘Weatherlord’ is coming!


K. M. Lockwood lives by the sea in Sussex - see the pics on Instagram. She fills jars with sea-glass, writes on a very old desk and reads way past her bedtime. Her tiny bed and breakfast is stuffed full of books - and even the breakfasts are named after writers. You'd be welcome to chat stories with @lockwoodwriter on Twitter

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