Title: Song of Blood and Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles, Volume 1)
Author: L. Penelope
Published: January 2015
Between love and duty lies destiny Orphaned and alone, Jasminda is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where she is feared for both the shade of her skin and her magical abilities. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive – an injured spy who steals her heart. Jack’s mission behind enemy lines nearly cost him his life but he is saved by the healing power of a mysterious young woman. Together they embark on a perilous journey straight into the heart of a centuries-old conflict. Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.
This one was suggested to me by Annie Bellet, because someone else suggested it to her. It’s a perfect example of how important word of mouth is for books. The best book in the world can sit around in obscurity, unless people read it and share their appreciation for it. So that’s your task for today: Tell someone about a book you’ve read that they might enjoy. Help support the authors that work so hard to bring you stories that both break and fill your heart.
Characterization and badassery
You all know that I’m all about the female heroes but I have to say that Jack is more badass than Jasminda. She leans a bit on the “chosen one” trope, though she’s no pushover herself. I like that she isn’t afraid to love, or to fight, which says a lot for her strength of character given her personal history. Jack is the kind of guy who can kick ass physically, lead people, and yet let the world burn for the ones he truly loves. Which I dig. A lot.
Plot and pacing
This story has three distinct acts, and each one is a full arc within the larger arc of the story. In other words, this story’s mechanics are constructed well. I didn’t get any of those low points that make me want to skim to get past, though the end stretched on a bit overlong, for my taste. Very minor quibble though, because I’m the kind of reader that, once I’ve broken through to the resolution of a story, there’s just no putting it down until I hit the last page. I’m hardcore that way. 😉
Prose and editing
Straightforward on both counts. I didn’t have stop-starts while I tried to figure out what a sentence meant, nor did I stop to savor particular imagery. I just put it in “drive” and plowed through the whole thing like a girl on a mission, flooring it in a Humvee.
Light on the ha-has, though there are a few wry ones that I rather liked.
This wasn’t a particularly groundbreaking plot but the characterization really shined, making it particularly engaging. There were very many opportunities for the characters to make the kind of decisions that turn a book into a wall-banger (as in, I throw it across the room while also hurling angry epithets), but the author cleverly avoided every one of them. Each time I thought “oh, this is going to go a bad way,” I was pleasantly proved wrong, and that might be my most favorite thing of the whole book.
“The people are idiots.”
Usher set a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “I’m sure the feeling is mutual.”