The Novellas of The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

on-the-merits I didn’t realize that Samantha Shannon published two novella’s in connection to her Bone Season series.  I was delighted that one of was Jaxon Hall’s infamous pamphlet. On the Merits of Unnaturalness.  Fans of the series will be familiar with the title as it is bases of the clairvoyant community and what made Jaxon a major player in the syndicate.  Under the pseudonym of the Obscure Writer, Jaxon goes through all the different types of Clairvoyance there is and grouped them in seven different orders.  This also created a hierarchy among the community by ranking orders by difficult and by rare each gift is.  I feel like this is a must read for fans of the books because it really clears up a lot of the different gifts that the characters have and how they relate to each other. It also explains why some are treated with more reverence then others.  We understand that Paige’s gift of dreamwalking is rare but not only that, it’s part of the seventh order so it makes her even more powerful among the community and having her in his gang, it makes Jaxon more powerful too.  It also cleared up more as to why the “vile augurs” were so despised and exiled to Jacob’s island.  I feel like I have a better understanding on the syndicate and Paige’s life after reading this.

pale-dreamer Speaking of understanding more about Paige’s life, the second novella is the The Pale Dreamer. It chronicles the early days of Paige in the Seven Seals.  She has only been in the gang for three months and so far on desk duty.  Aching to prove her worth, Paige gets a chance when a Poltergeist is set loose in London. We see that even three years before the action of the Bone Season, Paige was already brave, a little brash but a quick thinker.  Her powers are still raw but you can see the glimpse of her strong she will become.  This is also shows us why she goes by The Pale Dreamer. It was the name given to her by Jaxon himself.  It was the events depicted in the novella that lead her to becoming his Mollisher.  At the time the Seven Seals is only Jaxon, Nick, Eliza and Paige so we get the glimpse of their early relationship between these characters.  Also it lays the groundwork to the future conflict between Paige and Jaxon but also not that surprising as to why Nick and Eliza chose Paige over Jaxon at the end of The Mime Order.  It’s definitely worth a read for any fan but not necessary to enjoy the series as a whole as it doesn’t really add to the narrative.  It just fills out the world and Paige’s backstory a little more.  With a little less then a month before the release of The Song Rising, it’s a good read while you wait.

Throne of Glass Novellas by Sarah J. Maas

assassins-bladeAfter I finished reading Empire of Storms, I decided to go back and read the prequel novellas as many of the characters we meet in these stories make appearance and play a role in the final book to come out next year.  It’s very common for authors to publish novellas or short stories in connection with successful series.  Most of the time they have little consequence to the actual narrative of the series themselves.  They are just a fun story about the time before, or another character’s perspective.  The further I got into Empire of Storms and the big reveals starting to come out, I realized that I these novellas were more important then I originally thought.  The end was blending of Aelin’s present with Celaena’s past.  If Aelin is going to defeat Erawan and reclaim her crown in Terrasan she is going to have call in all of Celaena’s favors.  And so I went back and bought all the novellas. The five novella’s The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Healer, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld and The Assassin and the Empire tell the story of the months that lead her to be arrested and sent to Endovier where we meet her in the Throne of Glass that starts everything in motion.  All five novellas were collected together and later published under the named The Assassin’s Blade.

The novella’s we see  Celaena in her full Adarlan’s Assassin glory.  She is the most feared assassin in the land and she knows it.  As Arobynn Hamel’s protege she is at the top of her game, when she is sent to the Skull’s bay to meet with Captain Rolfe, the Pirate Lord.  When she finds out that her master is going into the Slave business, she defies him for the first time.  With the help of fellow assassin Sam Cortlandt she not only saves the slaves Arobynn was trading but all the slaves.  All good deeds don’t go unpunished.  She is severely punished and sent to the desert to learn from the Mute Master of the Silent Assassins. Here she meets Ansel of Briarcliff, her first real female friendship and new skills. Upon her return Arobynn gives her a mission that she can’t refuse but it ends up in even bigger betrayal that she pays off her and Sam’s debt’s and leaves Arobynn behind.  Celaena and  Sam have fallen in love and plan to Rithfold behind but not before they do one last job.  This leads to tragedy and ultimately what leads to the beginning of the series.  Caleana’s exploits are alluded too in the earlier books but didn’t really have much to do with the actual plot until our heroes make their way to Skull’s Bay to try to convince Captain Rolfe to join their cause.  Since the last time Aelin was there, she destroyed the docks and ended the very profitable slave trade for the Pirate King.  So, not the best impression to leave on the a possible ally. The Pirate Lord and Ansel have been mentioned before but in passing.  I used to think it was just a wink to not only Celaena’s past but also to all those readers who read the novellas but both Rolfe and Ansel play a pivotable role in Aelin’s plans to win the war. The stories gives us a sense about who Celaena was before the action of the series and how deep the scars run for her.  From the books, we know how complicated her relationship with Arobynn is but since it all happened before the action of the series we didn’t get see how toxic it truly was.  We also get to know Sam. His death is major part of Celaena’s story arc in the first two books.  It’s what haunts her and motivates her to seek out Arobynn for the truth. These are some of the rare series novellas that actually further the series plot and for that for fans of the Throne of Glass series, it’s worth reading all the novellas.

Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

stars above As you may have noticed.  Kate and I haven’t posted much lately.  I’ve been on vacation and had every intention of updating while I was gone but I was too busy enjoying doing nothing but hanging out with my parents and friends that blogging didn’t happen.  Oops.  Let’s try to make up.

Stars Above is a collection of short stories that takes place in the world of Lunar Chronicles.  Most of the them are prequels, giving readers more insight into who the characters were before the action the novels.  In the case of the first story, The Keeper, it fills in the story of how Cinder came to earth and how Michelle Benoit and Scarlett fit into her life before she became a cyborg.  Glitches follows Cinder as she meets her step family for the first time and how she went from the great hope to the just the mechanic.  In the Mechanic we get to read Kai’s first meeting with Cinder from his perspective and the final story, Something Old, Something New takes place a few years after the end of Winter where the whole gang comes back together for the wedding of two them.  I won’t say who because I don’t want to spoil it but you will be happy.  My favorite story was The Little Android. It’s the only story that doesn’t star anyone from the Lunar Chronicles but does feature a cameo by Cinder.  It’s about an Android like Iko that wants to be more then just an android.  She starts to have feelings with a human and buys an escort android body to pass herself as human to get closer to him.  The problem is that the man is in love with someone else.  We get a better view of what life is like for people living in New Beijing before Cinder’s revolution for androids, cyborgs and humans.  It’s a very bittersweet story but beautiful written.  This collection is worth it just for this story alone even if you are not a fan of the Lunar Chronicles.  For the fans, it’s a must read.

Review: Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

cruel crownCruel Crown is the collection of two prequel novellas to Red Queen. The first novella is Queen Song where we get the backstory of Cal’s mother and what really happened to her.  The other is Steel Scars that follows Farley as she leads the Scarlet Guard into Norta.  They both were pretty good.  Giving more insight into world the books take place.  Since Red Queen is told from Mare’s point of view, things like how the silver hierarchy is set up and how the Scarlet Guard works isn’t give much detail because Mare doesn’t know these things in much detail. That’s what kind of great but these little novella’s.  I’ve written in the past about how it’s trendy for YA authors to write novellas or short stories that take place in between books or prequels.  Sometimes they are just filler but other times they serve the purpose of filling in wholes that didn’t have time to get to in the narratives.  They also usually focus on supporting or minor characters instead of the protagonists in attempt to flesh out the world a little bit but usually they are of little importance.  If readers don’t read them, it’s no big deal.  They will still be able to the novels without missing anything.

Of the two stories I liked Queen Song the best.  It follows Queen Corianne before she became queen.  She’s the only daughter of a once great house that is down on their luck.  She catches the eye of Prince Tiberius, Cal’s and Maven’s father.  It follows their courtship, their short marriage and her eventual death.  She’s a feisty and curious girl, who is interested in mechanics and how things work but in a world where her only role is to be married off her dreams will never happen.  When she meets Prince Tiberius things start to open up for her.  She finds an equally lonely person to commiserate and love but never really gets over the feeling of being weak and useless.  Among those helping her feel that way is rival Elara, who would become Tiberius’s second wife and Maven’s mother.  She’s a powerful mind reader but the extant of her power is not truly revealed until the end.  Over the course of the story Corianne falls deeper and deeper into paranoia and sadness.  She’s been accused of tricking the Prince into marrying her.  She suffers many miscarriages until Cal is born.  She believes that Elara is behind it and ultimately she is right but no way to prove it.  It’s really quite sad.  From the very beginning there is a sense of foreboding since we know from Red Queen that she is dead and is believed by suicide. I kept hoping that there would be some kind of happy ending but knowing there would not.

In Steel Scars we get to know more about Farley and her motivations for not only for the Scarlet Guard but also for Mare.  We know in Red Queen that the Scarlet Guard is a resistance movement against the silver leadership but I assumed only in Norta.  I guess I’m going to have to go back and read it again.  Farley is from the Lakelands and comes to Norta to start the Scarlet Guards operations there.  While there she meets Shade Barrow, Mare’s brother, who becomes a spy for them.  Mare believes Shade to be dead until the end when it’s revealed of his involvement but also that he is like Mare.  Red blood with Silver powers.  We really don’t get much else from the story then that and why Farley is keen to recruit Mare.  Also, i think we are seeing the budding relationship between Farley and Shade.  There might be other hints for Glass Sword, the next book in the series but we will have to wait and find out.