‘Becoming the Chateran’ – S. J. Aisling
When Princess Rhea’s actions inadvertently condemn two innocent knights to death, she wakes to the hard reality that not even nobility is above the law. All her attempts to remedy the situation only complicate it, however, until she finds herself a fugitive in her own kingdom, having dragged her best friend into the trouble, as well. Their only hope for pardon? To accompany Sir Paladin and Sir Zephen in their sentence:
Slay, or be slain by, the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen.
Travelling incognito, they meet with more malicious Phoenixes than could be coincidental, discover the mysterious disappearance of numerous citizens, and come face to face with a reawakened evil power. With the kingdom oblivious to the connection of these dangers, it’s up to Rhea and her outlaw companions to stop the rising threat and redeem their names – if they can survive their quest.
About the author:
Stacia Joy has always loved to tell stories and invent fictional lands and characters. But she never considered becoming a writer herself until age thirteen, when, inspired by a pretend play she invented with a friend, she wrote the first draft of ‘Becoming the Chateran’. The story has since expanded into what will become The Chateran Series. Stacia Joy also writes in several other genres, including steampunk and paranormal/science fiction, and occasionally writes poems about buffalo.
Wanting to be able to show others what her imagined universe looks like, Stacia Joy taught herself to draw by studying the work of illustrators like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Kate Seredy, and Jan Brett. She also received training in illustration and graphic design at Madison Area Technical College, and plans to become a full-fledged freelance illustrator before long.
When not immersed in writing or art, Stacia Joy spends her time playing the piano and folk harp, composing music, Irish dancing, singing at the top of her lungs, and learning new things. She also enjoys helping with children’s ministry at her church, and currently resides in the Madison, Wisconsin area with a kitten named Lord Peter Whimsey.
This lengthy fantasy novel follows the travels of princess Rhea who is desperate to protect the honour and reputation of Sir Paladin. After getting lost in the forest, he escorts Rhea back to the castle, only to be greeted with suspicion and resentment, particularly from Rhea’s newly-engaged fiancé. Sentenced to slaying two terrible dragons, Rhea makes up her mind to accompany Paladin and Sir Zephen on this quest. This book follows their adventures with plenty of magical scenes thrown in along the way.
Rhea’s character transforms over this novel. Initially I found her spoilt princess attitude quite irritating. The way she demands attention from Paladin and refuses to do as she is told, despite putting everyone in danger, was quite frustrating and there were times I felt she needed a good slap! However, Rhea does mature and become more worldly on her travels and I found myself liking her at the end. Her desire to prove Paladin’s innocence and make sure everyone knows the truth was admirable and I really warmed to her as the narrative progressed.
The group encounter many obstacles as they go, especially as everyone is looking for the missing princess. My favourite part of this book was when the group are stuck in and enchanted city that no one has any desire to leave from. The descriptions from author at this point are particularly vivid and I could really imagine the city in my head. I wished more had been made of this section in the story because it was so different from the rest of the locations that the group travel through, even if it meant that another part of the novel was reduced.
This is a rather lengthy novel and one that I think is definitely a “typical” fantasy. Elves, dragons and unusual creatures, this certainly ticks all of the boxes. If you enjoy reading fantasy novels, then ‘Becoming the Chateran’ is definitely one for you. Myself, I found it a bit of a trudge at times and wanted there to be a lot more pace to the story. Nonetheless, closing scenes certainly set up the following book and it is evident that this is not the last we will hear of princess Rhea.
This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Excerpt from the novel:
Shouting and confusion suddenly rose up from within the castle, and Julen, almost losing his footing once more, scrambled for a better hold on the window bars. He faced into the wind as it shoved him against the tower, the loud cry ringing off the walls of the castle once again, and his jaw dropped. A flashing, red thing was speeding through the air towards the castle. Its enormous wings created the gale that had suddenly burst out, followed by waves of heat. Julen couldn’t move, clinging to the tower in horror as the Dragon swept low over the castle.
Valkdrava… the rumors are true, then!
All the brown-tinted trees far below shook and creaked, leaves scattering thick on the blast of wind. The power of the Dragon’s wingbeats pushed Julen from his window ledge, and he tumbled down, landing miraculously on the castle wall fifteen feet below. Bursts of light exploded in his view, and he couldn’t breathe, but then larger, fiercer, and redder flashes rent the air above him, and the voice of Vanna crying out his name stirred him. Somehow he found himself on his feet, swaying like a reed in the wind, and yet clutching his drawn hunting knife in his fist. The Valkdrava banked on the sweltering wind of its own creation, sending hay from the stack by the stable, torn pennants, and loosened tiles swirling through the air. Opening its mouth, it sent a stream of fire onto the wooden structures inside the bailey. The terrified shrieks and cries of the horses and other livestock in the buildings filled the air, and the shouting and screams of people joined the din as the Dragon swooped down again and again, each time sending fire into yet another spot within the castle. Within moments, Julen found himself surrounded by flames on the walls, with no way of getting down into the bailey and helping.
A troop of guards and soldiers burst from the armory and raced towards the Dragon, which had just perched on top of the great hall’s roof with a splintering of large glass windows and an avalanche of carved stone and tiles. The Dragon gave one look at the advance, and within seconds, all that remained of the soldiers lay piled in ashes and twisted metal in the courtyard. Then the Dragon, after grinding in the roof of the great hall like a kitchen maid kneads dough, turned and fixed its livid eyes on Julen.
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