Wednesday, May 22, 2013



by Michelle West (Michelle Sagara) is a novel of the ‘House War’ series. This intricately plotted fantasy is interconnected with multiple other books and details events that take place immediately after the murder of the head of House Terafin, Amarais ATerafin.  Jewel ATerafin returns from the wars in the South just in time to deal with the repercussions of her mentor’s assassination, including the machinations that accompany the investiture of a new head of House.  Her allies include an apparently emotionless male who is willing to slaughter countless mortals for the sake of convenience, a powerful mage who occasionally attempts to guide her behavior, several felines who constantly demonstrate that they think she is stupid, and a mysterious stag who can appear at will.  All Jewel wants to do is lay the woman she treasured in her heart to rest but circumstances and currents of power swirling exert their own demands and Jewel will have to decide what she truly treasures above all else and survive long enough to make that decision.

It took a long time for me to gather the will to request this fantasy book for review.  Then it took even longer for me to actually sit down and start reading it.  NOT because I didn’t think that it was going to be a masterpiece of a tale...but because I KNEW it would be.  I was dismayed because I haven’t read the rest of the novels in this series and therefore knew that I was about to be immersed in an intricately designed, multi-layered universe peopled by characters which were fascinating and unique but that they all had a backstory of which I knew nothing.  I knew that it was going to require focus and commitment, especially since the series is new to me and this author doesn’t skimp on texture and depth in her stories.

Despite my lack of knowledge of all of the events that led up to this point in the series, this story was a smorgasbord of experiences.  The deft weaving of multiple fantastical elements, including the Winter Court and Wild Hunt, winged and very vocal but easily bored creatures, manipulation using magic, telepathic communication, and demons all add to the epic quality of the tale which has an amazing number of significant events taking place in a very compressed amount of time.  Most impressive about this author is the fact that multiple readings of this very same story will result in new discoveries every time. 

I surmise from the various inferences that Jewel has matured considerably over time and has reluctantly gained a small degree of polish and political acumen yet she remains true to herself and retains her humility, frequently to the despair of her companions.  This quote seems to epitomize her philosophy, “But you looked at the Winter Queen.  You looked at the gods.  You wanted what they had.  I look at them, and I don’t.  I want what I have.  I want...what I had before the gods and the demons chose to play their games in my House.  I want my den, I want my friends, I want the people I love--yes, that word, and I don’t care if I should hide it.  I want them to live, and I want to live among them.”  That’s all she wants...but it seems that it is not necessarily her destiny.

This story is a tapestry that combines countless threads which may start out seeming relatively insignificant but can suddenly change the character of the entire tale.    I love the fact that there are facets to everything that change the picture when a different light reveals an unexpected aspect.  The not-so-humble dressmaker who inspires caution and awe in characters who are formidable in their own right, the doting grandfather who is yet a crafty manipulator, the cold and supercilious Winter’s Knight who discovers that there are still aspects to the puny mortals that can surprise him, even a garden which is not quite just a garden but a nexus of conflict. 

This is yet another example of this author’s awe-inspiring facility for creating a world to immerse oneself in and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series and delving more into the lives of these characters...I just have to find a few months of leisure so I can devote the time to them that they deserve!

I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review.  Most of this review has been submitted to Night Owl Reviews.

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