Friday, May 29, 2015

Review - Stories of the Raksura : Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells

Stories of the Raksura
   Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below
AuthorMartha Wells
Series:  Stories of the Raksura
Publisher:  Night Shade Books, June 2, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 232 pages
List Price:  $15.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781597805377 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Moon, Jade, and other favorites from the Indigo Cloud Court return with two new novellas from Martha Wells.

Martha Wells continues to enthusiastically breach genre conventions in her exploration of the fascinating world of the Raksura. Her novellas and short stories contain all the elements fans have come to love from the Raksura books: courtly intrigue and politics, unfolding mysteries that reveal an increasingly strange wider world, and threats both mundane and magical.

“The Dead City” is a tale of Moon before he came to the Indigo Court. As Moon is fleeing the ruins of Saraseil, a groundling city destroyed by the Fell, he flies right into another potential disaster when a friendly caravanserai finds itself under attack by a strange force. In “The Dark Earth Below,” Moon and Jade face their biggest adventure yet: their first clutch. But even as Moon tries to prepare for impending fatherhood, members of the Kek village in the colony tree’s roots go missing, and searching for them only leads to more mysteries as the court is stalked by an unknown enemy.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With these two new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell . . .

Brannigan's Review

Stories of The Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells is strange, which in this case is a compliment. I've read some of Well's earlier books and enjoyed them a lot, so I jumped at the chance to review one of her newer works—little did I know what I was getting myself into.

Wells is a master writer and has been doing it long enough that even now as she delves into Strange Fantasy she can still keep me invested in the story. For those of you unfamiliar with Strange Fantasy, it's a sub-genre that focuses on exploring worlds and creatures that are completely unfamiliar to your average fantasy story. Now, almost every fantasy writer likes to create something unique to their world, but they still use familiar creatures and humanoid races that readers can identify with. Strange Fantasy doesn't. It gives you very little you recognize. On the positive side, there's plenty of wonder and exploration for the reader as you discover new things on every page. The negative side is there are so many new things that it's easy to get overwhelmed and feel disconnected to the actual story.

There are four short stories and one novella in this volume of short stories. The only common race throughout most of the stories are the Raksura, a cross between a dragon and humanoid creature that can phase between different shapes. Moon and Jade are two of the Raksura that appear in more than a few of the stories, and I would deem them the main characters. Moon, a male, spent most of his youth away from his own race, and Jade, a female, is a sister queen to her court. In a later story, Moon is Jade's consort.

I'm a character and world fan. I love getting connected to characters and lost in a world. With all the strangeness of the characters and world, Wells drew me in the different stories and I found myself enjoying my time in her world. However, I did feel very lost, as there was a lot I knew I was missing by not reading other books in the series. I also had a hard time relating to the characters even though I was engaged in the story. It's already a difficult read without jumping in on volume two of a short story collection.

Stories of The Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below is a fascinatingly strange world to immerse yourself in. I would only recommend it to those already familiar with this world or up for a challenge and bored with the regular fantasy tropes. There are acts of violence, no bad language and only implied adult situations. I would recommend it to teens and adults. This series is for die-hard fans of Wells and those looking for something they won't find in every other fantasy book.


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