About the Books
Author: Rebecca Roland
Shards of History (#1)
August 21, 2012
World Weaver Press
Feared and reviled, the fierce, winged creatures known as Jeguduns live in the cliffs surrounding the Taakwa valley. When Malia discovers an injured Jegudun in the valley, she risks everything — exile from the village, loss of her status as clan mother in training, even her life — to befriend and save the surprisingly intelligent creature. But all of that pales when she learns the truth: the threat to her people is bigger and more malicious than the Jeguduns. Lurking on the edge of the valley is an Outsider army seeking to plunder and destroy her people. It’s only a matter of time before the Outsiders find a way through the magic that protects the valley — a magic that can only be created by Taakwa and Jeguduns working together.
Fractured Days (#2)
June 9, 2015
World Weaver Press
Malia returns home the hero of a war she can’t remember. The valley burning under the Maddion’s invasion, the fate of her late husband, the way she resolved the long-time distrust between the Taakwa people and the wolfish, winged Jegudun creatures–all of it has been erased from her memory. Malia hopes to resume training as her village’s next clan mother, but when the symbiotic magic that she and the Jeguduns used to repair the valley’s protective barrier starts to consume more and more of her mind, she’s faced with the threat of losing herself completely.
A powerful being known as “the changer” might hold the solution to her vanishing memories. But the Maddion’s new leader, Muvumo, also seeks the changer, hoping the being will cure them of the mysterious illness killing off his people. Meanwhile, Muvumo’s bride hopes the changer can bring about a new era, one in which she and the other Maddion women no longer need to hold onto their greatest secret.
Shattered Fates (#3)
May 23, 2017
World Weaver Press
The magic barrier protecting the Taakwa from their enemies, the Maddion, is gone. Malia, who led the Taakwa against the Maddion in the Dragon War, must convince the magical being, the changer, to repair the barrier before the Maddion invade to take revenge on her people and the winged Jeguduns who also call the valley home, even if it means reversing the healing the changer wrought for her.
Chanwa, the wife of the Maddion leader, uses the disorder created by the changer to lead a coup against her husband in a desperate attempt to ensure she and the other Maddion women are treated as equals. Her life, and the future of every Maddion woman, depends on her success.
Both women know the only way to succeed is to come together in an unlikely alliance.
Shards of History
This is a terrific beginning to the series. Although it does end with some loose threads, it can still be enjoyed as a complete story. The main plot of the book resolves by the conclusion.
The world-building here is excellent. While there are some longer descriptive passages, they pertain mostly to providing us a visual of the countryside, home life for Malia and her people, and the encampment of the Maddion. Nothing feels like too much or as though it’s there only for exposition. For the most part, everything is woven into the plot seamlessly. I enjoyed the vivid picture the author paints of the different cultures and people.
Malia is a wonderful hero. She isn’t without flaws, particularly her stubborn streak and her reluctance to ask for help. However, she is also brave, kind, and honest, and both her strengths and her weaknesses end up serving her well.
There’s a lot of death, but I love how it’s handled here. It doesn’t feel careless or for the sake of demonstrating violence. Instead, the characters are allowed their human moments of grief, even when the deceased is an enemy. In fact, that’s one of the things I particularly liked. The Maddion are a brutal, patriarchal society, and yet even within that the characters are not flat villains. Through the eyes of Kushtrim, we see both his desire to help his people and the brutality of the methods he’s chosen to do so.
The one thing which surprised me is that there are so few women characters, and they don’t interact much with each other. Malia’s people are matriarchal and revere their women, but I didn’t get a strong sense of this in the first installment. It doesn’t necessarily bother me, and it won’t reduce my rating. I was merely surprised.
Aside from that, this is an absolutely outstanding novel. It hit all my buttons just right, between the historical/fantasy setting, the deep character development, and the gorgeous style.
For beautiful writing, a thoroughly engaging plot, and characters who drew me in, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
This second part of the trilogy is a good bridge between the other two. The others read as complete plots on their own, and although that’s true here to some degree, it cannot be read on its own. That is not a problem, since I was so captivated by the world and the people while reading that I wouldn’t have wanted to read it alone.
In this part, there are a host of new characters. Since so many of the Maddion died (or were never named) in the first one, that leaves room for us to meet more of them in a different way. I give credit to the author for drawing me into Muvumo’s desperation. I truly felt for him while at the same time being repulsed by him. His actions swing between eliciting sympathy and anger.
Meanwhile, his wife, Chanwa, is a fascinating person. She has so many secrets, and I loved her character development. She and Muvumo represent opposite sides of the same coin. Both want to save their people, but Muvomo believes that means from without and Chanwa sees that coming from within.
None of these stories are romance at all, but there are a number of relationships which develop and are explored in the text. Some of them are enemies becoming allies, others are friendship, family, and romantic. There is a relationship between two of the women, and I really like how it develops and how the author handles it. It is neither more nor less than any other couplehood, addressed in the same understated way as the rest. One thing I appreciate is that it isn’t used against them as some sort of “hero’s downfall.”
I enjoyed this book every bit as much as the first, and my concern over the lack of women has been laid to rest. I’m still surprised that we see much more of the Maddion women than the Taakwa, but it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the story.
For a superb follow-up, an excellent new cast of characters in addition to familiar faces, and a cliffhanger that promises an exciting conclusion, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
This is the last part of the series, and I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how it was all going to come together in the end. It did, though, and I was left feeling exhilarated, satisfied, and emotionally spent. It is absolutely the perfect conclusion.
As much as I love Malia, Chanwa became my favorite character. She is absolutely wonderful, and her perseverance is inspiring. She’s fascinating on every level. I wasn’t sure what to hope for aside from simply wanting her to win. It would be spoilers to give details about how she carries out her plan, but it’s brilliant. Also, she deserves credit for creative use of a fertility statue in her quest for victory.
I was also not sure how or whether the mutara, who had more than one name in the story, would be integrated at the end. The way it happens is gorgeous and perfect, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Everything about this is pitch-perfect. Despite some of the darkness and destruction, there’s also a thread of hope throughout and plenty of low-key humor. The romantic subplots continue to be understated but integral to the whole story, and the resolutions to those are highly satisfying.
This is a series with a message, but it’s not delivered in a heavy-handed way. Instead, it’s brought out in the love women have for those around them: family, friends, lovers, and even former enemies. These books are must-reads for anyone who enjoys a bit of realistic commentary with their fantasy escape. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.
For an absorbing story, characters who become like friends, and a perfect ending, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
About the Author
Rebecca Roland is the author of the Shards of History series, The Necromancer’s Inheritance series, and The King of Ash and Bones, and Other Stories. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Nature, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Stupefying Stories, Plasma Frequency, and Every Day Fiction, and she is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. You can find out more about her and her work at rebeccaroland.net, her blog Spice of Life, or follow her on Twitter @rebecca_roland.