Air and Ash – a review

Thursday_horizons

This is the second of my new Thursday Creation Review posts which will usually be Books, but I am still reserving the right to review Games, Films or other Works of Art – and I will add music to that.

Alex Lidell’s Tides is a series of books that has been on my Want To Read list for too long – and then I won Book 3, Sea and Sand (#3) in a Goodreads Giveaway. First, though, I read and reviewed First Command (TIDES, # 0.5), which was an absorbing taster that introduced me to the main character of Lieutenant Nile Greysik and her world.

The author kindly provided me with Book 1 of the series, and this is my extended review.

AirandAsh

Air and Ash (TIDES #1)

by

Alex Lidell (Goodreads Author)

Born to privilege.
Trained for command.
Destined for danger.

After a lifetime of training, seventeen-year-old Princess Nile Greysik, a lieutenant on the prestigious Ashing navy flagship, sails into battle with one vital mission–and fails.

Barred from the sea and facing a political marriage, Nile masquerades as a common sailor on the first ship she can find. With a cowardly captain, incompetent crew, and a cruel, too-handsome first officer intent on making her life a living hell, Nile must hide her identity while trying to turn the sorry frigate battle worthy. Worse, a terrifying and forbidden magic now tingles in Nile’s blood. If anyone catches wind of who Nile is or what she can do, her life is over.

But when disaster threatens the ship, Nile may have no choice but to unleash the truth that will curse her future.

Review 4.3 stars

After reading First Command (TIDES, # 0.5), the taster that introduced me to Lieutenant Nile Greysik and her world, I had to read Tides #1. This book was provided by the author but without any requirements.

When Nile escapes her Royal obligations and masquerades as a common sailor, events conspire against her. The author ensures that the decks are stacked against Nile in unexpected ways that had me guessing where the story was heading. This was a slightly devious storyline although with few plotlines to misdirect the reader from a fast read.

The characters are varied, and some have complex personalities with backstories that are never totally revealed – there must be more to come. The cast hints at the world created from the political situation and attitudes to the crucial seafaring.

Alex Lidell’s well-imagined world blends seafaring and fantasy, and yet brings back memories of reading the Hornblower books in my teens – although it is wrong to compare the books. This protagonist is female, and the author builds on that – as well as the princess angle. But there is so much more – like magic being a very mixed curse. For Nile, this force that flows through her veins is a primary motivation – and not just for herself.

This is a world where magic is going underground through misunderstanding and a growing sense of discrimination. Attitudes, not just in magic, vary from nation to nation and between cultures. For instance, the Ashing royals serve in their navy, but in other states, the nobility and rich pamper themselves.

The social divide is clear, but onboard a ship there is promotion from the ranks. The nautical details rang true from my limited mucking-around-in-boats and from my copy of The Hornblower Companion. The confined space of a ship adds to the cruel pecking order. However, rank brings expectations as does Royal blood. Nile needs to judge who to trust beyond appearances if she is to complete her goals.

Where do events lead Nile? I’m giving nothing away – even if you keel-haul me – all I can say is ‘don’t expect all the threads to be tied up’. This entertaining read is Book 1 of a trilogy and you won’t want to stop. I’m not, although I must clear the reading decks so I can open War and Wind (#2) and the conclusion Sea and Sand (#3).

Recommended for those that enjoy their seafaring adventures spiced with fantasy – 4.3 stars adjusted to 4.

Story – four stars

Setting/World-building – four stars

Authenticity – four stars

Characters – five stars

Structure – four stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – four stars

First Command

O is for Onigiri

O

The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.

 [Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

Game: Onigiri is an action MMORPG set in a fantasy land reminiscent of ancient Japan in which humans and non-humans such as Oni and other Yōkai coexist. The game has a unique progression system – rather than picking classes, players swap between weapons which each have different skills available.

This is the second of the oriental games that I am looking at – here originating with Japanese mythology.

Release Date: JP: February 6, 2014; NA: July 1, 2014

Developer/Publisher: CyberStep

Genre/gameplay mechanics: players choose one of five traits that will determine which weapons they can use; each player unlocks eight NPC partners that each have distinct personalities and abilities; real-time combat and multiple difficulty modes for each dungeon; stylish anime graphics and Japanese voice acting.

Setting: The game is set in a fantasy version of ancient Japan that is filled with creatures of myth. Landscape and inhabitants have a firm basis in myths, even though anime graphics reduce realism.

Storytelling: Ages ago the terrible Kamikui wreaked a trail of death and destruction across the land before being stopped by the goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu Oomikami. The goddess places three great Seals that forced the Kamikui to retreat. Now one of the Seals has shattered. The player character is an Oni whose peaceful life in the Western island of Onigashima is disturbed by the revival of the Kamikui

All the NPCs have backgrounds and stories.

Formats: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One

Origins (Chronological):

  1. 1st century – Japanese myths were originally transmitted orally, as in most cultures. An early source of Japanese mythology is the Nihongi, or Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan). Completed in 720, this work includes various myths and legends, and it helps establish the genealogy of the imperial family. The Nihongi was greatly influenced by Chinese and Korean history and mythology.
  2. The first written version of the mythology was in A.D. 712 when the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) was compiled for the Japanese imperial The tales tell of the creation of the world, the origin of the gods, and the ancestry of the Japanese emperors, who claimed descent from the sun goddess Amaterasu. Both the Kojiki and the Nihongi contain elements of Taoism, a Chinese religious movement that was introduced to Japan by the 600s. 

Adaptations set in the ‘Onigiri’ universe:

  1. TV Anime – An anime television adaptation of the game was aired from April 7, 2016, on Tokyo MX and BS Fuji until June 30, 2016.

onigiri-equipment

Recommendation: Onigiri has garnered a number of favourable reviews, from Bradly Storm of Hardcore Gamer saying it was “a fairly competent and enjoyable hack-and-slash experience” even though the launch suffered from server-side latency issues to Crunchyroll calling it “a very solid title.”

However, the game has remained low-key with a moderate anime fanbase. Many players have criticized the game for its monotony after reaching a certain level.

MMOs.com gave the following summary:

Pros: +Unique weapon system. +Great NPC Companion feature. +Stylish visuals.
Cons: -Repetitive dungeon designs. -Appeal limited to anime fans. -Collision and imprecise control issues.

Alternative ‘O’ thoughts:

O is also for Oz, as in the L Frank Baum’s wonderful book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or the subsequent films, including the strange prequel in 2013, Oz the Great and Powerful. There were numerous adaptations, including games, but none that sparked my research brain – despite Baum’s origins.

Plus, I needed to look much further East to make my gaming POV representative’ of the breadth of gaming origins. So, tomorrow we are in China.

 

Enter this portal to reach other Worlds in my A2ZMMORPG

Hela da

 

 

M is for Might & Magic

M

 

The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.

[Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

 

Game: Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, commonly abbreviated to Might and Magic VI or simply MM6, is an RPG that was praised for its non-linear, user-friendly and interactive approach.

Release Date: April 30, 1998

Developer: New World Computing

Genre/gameplay mechanics: player chooses & controls four adventurers; character improvement and ageing; fully explorable maps; battles can be conducted either in real time or in a turn-based mode; single-player, 1st person viewing with 360 degrees turning; keyboard controls – arrow keys not WSAD or mouse; main and side quests.

Setting: Medieval fantasy world of Enroth on continent of same name, Seven years after the events of Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Succession Wars. As semi-realistic as blocky-graphics of era allowed. Terrain varies between grassland, swamp, desert and extra-terrestrial constructs.

Storytelling: Continues the 1500-year war between the Ancients and a Devil-like race of alien beings, the Kreegans, from some of previous M&M games. The war spills over into nearby planets. On Enroth, the adventurers aim to keep a rightful dynasty in control amidst various plots and machinations.

Releases + Expansions: Might and Magic is a series of RPGs created by Jon Van Caneghem. Might and Magic is considered one of the defining examples of early PC role-playing games, along with The Bard’s TaleUltima and Wizardry series.

The majority of the gameplay takes place in a medieval fantasy setting, while later sections of the games are often based on science fiction tropes, the transition often serving as a plot twist. Combat is turn-based, though the later games allowed the player to choose to conduct combat in real time.

From Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven onward, the interface features a three-dimensional environment.

There are ten games in the series:

Anthologies

  • Might and Magic Trilogy(1993), includes Might and Magic games III, IV, V, and the fanmade Swords of Xeen.
  • Might and Magic I, II, III, IV, V: Collection Classique(1998), contains the games I-V
  • Ultimate Might and Magic Archives(1998), includes the first five Might and Magic games, World of Xeen and the fanmade Swords of Xeen.
  • Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven – Limited Edition(1998), a collector’s edition of Might and Magic VI that included the first five games on CD-ROM as well.
  • Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven – Special Edition(1998), included Might and Magic games I, II, III, IV, V and the fanmade Swords of Xeen as well.
  • Might and Magic Sixpack(1998), includes the first six Might and Magic
  • Might and Magic Millennium Edition(1999), includes the Might and Magic games IV, V, VI and VII.
  • Might and Magic (Platinum Edition)(2002), includes the Might and Magic games VI, VII, VIII and IX.

There were several spin-offs from the main series, including Heroes of Might and MagicCrusaders of Might and MagicWarriors of Might and MagicLegends of Might and Magic, and the fan-made Swords of Xeen.

In August 2003, Ubisoft acquired the rights to the Might and Magic and has since released multiple new projects using the Might and Magic brand, including a fifth instalment of the Heroes series, an action-style game called Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and a puzzle RPG called Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes.

Limbic Entertainment has developed the latest game in the franchise, Might & Magic Heroes VII, for Ubisoft,

Formats: Microsoft Windows

Origins (Chronological):

1983-86 – The original Apple II version of Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum was written almost single-handedly by Jon Van Caneghem over three years. Van Caneghem had difficulty finding a publisher to distribute Might and Magic, so he self-published as New World Computing, handling the distribution himself from his own apartment until he was able to broker a distribution deal with Activision.

M&M2

Recommendation: Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven was a critical success upon release. GameSpot gave the game a 9.1 out of 10 and called it “a standout game in what should be a great year for role-playing game fans”, as well as saying “the graphics in Might and Magic VI are the best yet seen in a 3D first-person-perspective role-playing game.” GameRankings compiled reviews for an average of 85.14%. Might and Magic VI was nominated for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences‘ “Role-Playing Game of the Year”, Computer Gaming World‘s “Best RPG”, PC Gamer US‘s “The Best Roleplaying Game”, GameSpot‘s “Role-playing Game of the Year”, IGN‘s “Best RPG of the Year” and Computer Games Strategy Plus‘s “RPG of the Year” awards, all of which ultimately went to Baldur’s Gate – see my post B is for Baldur’s Gate.

3.55 Stars: I played Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, obsessively, around 1998 – determined to find a final secret cache defended by dragons in the desert – a side mission as I completed the game. After dying a few times – nothing has changed – I learnt how to manage a party and stormed ahead. Re-visiting the game after 20 years, I’m dying as I re-learn the tricks of the past – but it’s fun as I re-learn forgotten tricks.

  1. Setting: 3.5*
  2. Storyline: 4*
  3. Gameplay: 3.25*
  4. Entertainment: 4*
  5. Genesis: 3*

Alternative ‘M’ thoughts:

M is also for A Matter of Life or Death, one of my top ten movies for so many reasons – 1946, Powell, Pressburger, Niven, Hunter, Goring…

+ ‘M’ Games played: Mabinogi, Medieval: Total War.

 

Enter this portal to reach other Worlds in my A2ZMMORPG

Hela da

 

 

E is for Elder Scrolls

E

The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper. [Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

Game: The Elder Scrolls is a series of action fantasy RPGs known for its elaborate and richly detailed open worlds and its focus on free-form gameplay.

Release Date: March 25, 1994

Developer/Publisher: Bethesda

Genre/gameplay mechanics: RPG; open world; fantasy; action-adventure; 3rd person; multi-player; “a game designed to encourage exploration and reward curiosity”; choices are crucial.

Setting: The Elder Scrolls games primarily take place on the fictional continent of Tamriel, located on the world of Nirn, but there are a few exceptions, although these exist in the same fictional universe. The high-fantasy setting is realistic with detailed, immersive graphics as series evolved.

Storytelling: Rich and extensive with a developed history, or as Wikipedia says, “In accordance with many literary high fantasy works, the world of The Elder Scrolls is known for its attention to detail, including well-developed lore and backstory. This includes a vast amount of information such as names, dates, and places that constitute its history and the interconnected structure of its various societies, cultures, and religions.”

Releases + Expansions: The Elder Scrolls has evolved through seven releases and ten expansions.

Current release: The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMORPG set in Tamriel, released in April 2014 to mixed reviews. The response improved significantly with the re-release in January 2015. It was renamed as The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, with critics praising the changes.

Formats: MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, N-Gage, J2ME, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, macOS, Nintendo Switch

Origins (Chronological):

  1. 1890s – This depends on whether The Elder Scrolls is ‘high fantasy. As Wikipedia says, “The term “high fantasy” was coined by Lloyd Alexanderin a 1971 essay, “High Fantasy and Heroic Romance” (originally given at the New England Round Table of Children’s Librarians in October 1969).” And from there, “The romances of William Morris, such as The Well at the World’s End, set in an imaginary medieval world, are sometimes regarded as the first examples of high fantasy. The works of  R. R. Tolkien—especially The Lord of the Rings—are regarded as archetypal works of high fantasy.” Therefore, the logical thought is that all games that follow in role-playing campaign settings have their origins much further back. What then? Do I look to those writers’ roots?

Adaptations set in the ‘Elder Scrolls’ universe:

  1. Novels: In 2009, science-fiction author Gregory Keyes released The Elder Scrolls: The Infernal City. In 2011, Lord of Souls was released as Keyes’ second novel in his The Elder Scrolls book series.

Recommendation: Highly successful, the series has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and spawned a staunch community. The reviews have generally been very good. In 2012, Complex ranked The Elder Scrolls at number 20 on the list of the best video game franchises. In 2013, The Elder Scrolls was voted as the Greatest Game Series of the Decade on GameSpot, beating out 64 other competitors.

ElderScrolls01

4 Stars: Although aware of the series, I have only played The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, and only recently. However, this MMORPG compares well to similar games that I’ve played extensively. The setting was amazing and the game enthralling, even if I took some time to adapt to the mechanic and the divergent storylines. A game that a player must devote time to appreciate.

  1. Setting: 4.5*
  2. Storyline: 4*
  3. Gameplay: 4*
  4. Entertainment: 4*
  5. Genesis: 3.5*

 

Alternative ‘E’ thoughts:

E is also for Excalibur but that’s a sword that has yet to slide from a stone. And a 1981 epic fantasy movie that I enjoyed for its unusual re-telling of the Arthur legend. There was even a game that I never played – Excalibur: Morgana’s Revenge.

Enter this portal to reach other Worlds in my A2ZMMORPG

Hela da

 

 

A Hero’s Tale – a review

This is the third Book in the When Women Were Warriors fantasy trilogy and when I reviewed the second book, A Journey of the Heart, I had to read Book 3 at once. I wasn’t disappointed, although I must apologise for this belated review – life & health conspired against this getting written.

 Hero'sTale

A Hero’s Tale (When Women Were Warriors #3)

by Catherine M. Wilson (Goodreads Author)

In Book II, Tamras moved from her home into the lands beyond its border. In Book three, the stage widens further: she deals with the struggles of whole peoples. Caught up in intrigues that would once have been far above her, the heroine risks everything unless she can not only learn to swim in treacherous waters, but to master them. The heroine ‘s inner journey continues to match her outer one. She must confront the meaning not only of personal love, but the love that extends beyond oneself and those we hold dear. Catherine Wilson ‘s skill at tackling the big issues of love, meaning, and humanity is so deft that it all seemed, to me at least, to flow naturally from her narrative in a way I found technically quite breathtaking. “–from a review by Charles Ferguson on the Goodreads website

“Being the third and last volume in a series I enjoyed immensely, I knew that I could expect this last book to deliver a happy and satisfying ending. What I didn’t t expect was the intricate and daring storyline of this last volume. It is bigger and broader than what has come before, and it is spectacular. this time the story unfolds on to a whole new level. More characters, more intrigue, greater losses, wonderful reunions. There ‘s no taking the easy road here the story opened up into unimagined dimensions to tell a tale that really is that of a hero.”

When Women Were Warriors manages to blend mythic storytelling with characters who feel so real you could imagine stepping into the pages and having a conversation with them. A Hero ‘s Tale skilfully weaves the questions of love, faith and fairness into a dramatic story; not only of a relationship between the main characters, but of a quest so much bigger it takes the breath away. There is everything you could wish for here power struggles, forces for good and evil, dramatic tests of faith, daring rescues, fatal rivalry, but it is managed with such a deft hand that in the end it is all one beautiful story. What else is there to say? This is not just lesbian fiction, but a story about being human. It ‘s not to be missed.–from a review by Kate Genet on the website, Kissed By Venus

In Book III of the trilogy, Tamras must make her own hero ‘s journey. She ventures into the unknown and encounters a more formidable enemy than any she has ever faced. Character is destiny, and the destiny of Tamras and all her people will depend upon choices that come less from the skills she has been taught than from the person she has become, from her own heart.

 

Review 5 stars

It has been a few weeks since I made the final stages of the heroic journey of Tamras but so much of this world ‘when women were warriors’ lives on. I am tempted to slip back into her vibrant world again as the characters and settings feel so rich, and the writing still weaves its spell over me.

This is the epic climax and the story grows in intensity as the events become more complex. Tamras faces new challenges that are a true test of everything that she has learned. The younger and less-experienced Tamras of Book 1 might well have failed, and even after progressing so much, she still stumbles. Yet, Tamras struggles on.

The character has grown to the point where she can stand alongside some formidable characters, sharing her brand of wisdom and still learning as unexpected events unfold. Some key motifs and threads come together in well-constructed echoes and actions that made me feel this tapestry was being woven together neatly. Wolves and mysteries were my thoughts, but I will say no more about that.

Yes, as with any epic saga, there are threads left to tease the reader, but no saga truly ends as life continues beyond ‘The End’. Without those, this reader would not be creating my own imaginings of where Tamras goes next. Do we want a ‘happily ever after’ ending?

The central element is again ‘Love’ in all its forms, true and perverted, uplifting and shattering, emotional and physical. We all need to learn who to embrace and when. The key is to follow your heart and the truth will be revealed.

All the evocative words and images are there again, all the rich and flawed characters, and some unexpected actions and decisions. All these make A Hero’s Tale another recommended read and the perfect end to the trilogy. Finally, I have the signed paperbacks to place in my bookshelf alongside my prized hardback copies of The Lord of the Rings.

When Women Were Warriors too will be regular re-reads over the years to come.

Story – five stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Diversity – five stars

Characters – five stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – five stars

 

A Journey of the Heart – a review

This is the second Book in the When Women Were Warriors fantasy trilogy and when I reviewed the first book, The Warrior’s Path , I was excited to read Book 2. I wasn’t disappointed.

Journey of the Heart 

A Journey of the Heart (When Women Were Warriors #2)

by Catherine M. Wilson

A Journey of the Heart Book II] shows the same strong storytelling ability of the first book. The language is still almost musical and wraps its sweet spell around you. Storylines that were just starting to grow in the first book are also very well developed here. Intrigue and conflict are fleshed out and take some surprising twists. All that I had hoped for, reading the first book, begins to bloom. “–from a review by Kate Genet on the website, Kissed By Venus

“Catherine Wilson creates a magical sense of place, and of belonging to that place. Within that, she also tells how it feels to not belong. Ms Wilson ‘s is a tale of bone wisdom. It whispers of what we remember when we sleep at night and dream. It calls us to remember that women had, and still have, a wise and powerful place in the world.”–from a review on the blog, The Rainbow Reader, by Baxter Clare Trautman, author of The River Within

“In this book, we see Tamras world open from the House of Merin and its immediate environs into the lands beyond its borders. She meets other peoples, whose ways are different from those she knows. Similarly Tamras inner life expands as well: the feelings within her blossom into the romantic love that will be the linchpin her life will hinge on “–from a review by Charles Ferguson on the Goodreads website

In Book II of the trilogy, Tamras ‘s apprenticeship as a warrior isn’t turning out quite the way she expected. Her unconventional choices lead to her crossing swords, almost literally, with Vintel, the war leader of Merin ‘s house. She finds herself embroiled in a power struggle she is doomed to lose, but the loss sends her on a journey that will change her destiny and decide the fate of her people.

 

Review 5 stars

When Tamras continued her journey ‘when women were warriors’, I slipped back easily into her world again as the characters and settings were familiar from Book 1. As was the writing, which continued to weave its spell over me.

The rhythm that Catherine Wilson chooses continued to remind me of an oral storyteller. Once again, the beautiful poetic phrases kept me reading and held my attention throughout.

As events at Merin’s House and on the northern frontier unfold, Tamras faces crucial decisions and discovers her real friends – and the conflict with Merin’s war leader Vintel intensifies as does her relationship with Maara, the warrior that she is apprenticed to.

Love is the central theme to this book and the trilogy. Not just romantic love but the emotion that is special and deep, that ties people together and gives them life but also hurts. Love is explored in a multitude of ways – mother/child, siblings, woman/woman, warrior/apprentice, wife/husband, first loves. The writer helps the reader feel the intricacies of the emotions involved, never rushing the scenes where characters interact with dialogue, glances or caresses.

Although women are central to the tale and women hold the main warrior role, this is not a simplistic role reversal. Some reviewers, mainly fellow men sadly, have missed the fact that there are warriors at Merin’s House who are men. In modern society, women wanting to fight was frowned on until recently, to the extent that some disguised themselves as men. In contrast, this world-building portrays a more balanced society where such strict divisions are not present.

The reader experiences the battle emotions and reactions as Tamras has her first encounter with the raiding northern tribes. In most cases, the reactions are rooted in respect between fellow warriors and apprentices, and even between rivals.

However, this world is realistic with characters that have been slaves and that issue is gradually explored as the revelations paint a complex world and the war that created much of the backstory emerges into view. The reader discovers more about Merin and her fellow elders as well as her importance to Tamras.

Caring for others has many angles – and complications – as Tamras learns…with love playing its complex role. Once again, there are lessons at every growth point regardless of age and previous experiences. How does one wield that delicate position called ‘Power’ and what is the nature of that ability? The novel is filled with crucial questions for Tamras and the reader – challenges.

The characterisation continues to be rich and the central characters grow as events unfold. Some learn, and others just react, although motives are cleverly revealed – but not too soon. Tamras’s path got clearer but rockier as the mid-point of the trilogy was reached. From there onwards, lines are drawn as the inner and outer conflicts simmer. There will be a climactic clash but as in other great epics, that is being set up with physical and psychological skirmishes that test characters.

There is more great wisdom here, and there are ancient tales woven into the whole – fireside storytelling within a saga. Tamras, especially, told stories that she had learnt while growing up – tales that are told in the style of oral ‘tales of yore’. These add to the magic of the novel, and to the sense of an older world more in touch with its roots.

All the events and revelations set up Book 3 neatly, so A Hero’s Tale has moved top of my ‘Must Reads’ list. Although I’m reading the trilogy on Kindle, I have just ordered the paperbacks to place on my bookshelf alongside my prized copies of The Lord of the Rings.

Story – five stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Diversity – five stars

Characters – five stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – five stars