Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Shorts: The Shattered Mountain

On the outskirts of Joya d'Arena, small villages fight for survival against the onslaught of sorcerers and raiders. Mara's village has been safe--so far--but Mara decides to escape anyway. Escape from her harsh, abusive father. Escape with her first love. But when their plans fall on the same day that the animagi burn the village to the ground, Mara faces losses that could destroy her. She's a survivor, though. She is going to make it through the mountains, and she is going to protect the refugees following her. Because there's a rumored safe haven . . . and some say they have found the Chosen One. Told from Mara's point-of-view, The Shattered Mountain is an alternate perspective of the beginning of the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Quoted from Goodreads


Well, the novella is absolutely here to stay, and I, for one, am glad about it.  It's fun to see different key sequences from another character's POV.  Generally, I like expanding the book's universe and telling stories that previously lived only in author's heads.  That being said, these are really hard to review.  They depend on their trilogy, quadrilogy, whatever.  For example, Crown of Embers was one of my favorite books last year, so I was understandably excited.  Personally, I loved The Shattered Mountain.  It was well written, full of action and heartbreak, coming of age and first loves.    But, it's only a novella.  It needs the other books.  I guess Mara's story could stand alone, but it would be a little unfulfilling.  What makes it great is seeing her in these other books, learning where she comes from, and learning to admire and love her even more because of this.

That being said, I really did love this short story. It does so much in so little time, confirming how great an author Rae Carson really is.  I love the insights into Mara's character.  Yes, I did sort of know the end from the beginning, but it still broke my heart seeing the hardship Mara and the rest of the children faced before they make their appearance in Girl of Fire and Thorn.  It also made me admire Mara that much more, actually experiencing what she went through.  

This book really is basically all heartbreak and action.  It's basically a group of children's struggle to survive after all their parents and their village has been wiped out by their enemies.  Besides just Mara, we get to see all the children grown up, even a little four year old.  I've said heartbreak a lot in this review, and there is a lot of it in this book, but there are wonderful moments of bravery and strength, compassion and struggle that makes this novella a wonderful read.

It's also fun to see Elisa from another character's POV.  We get a glimpse of her in Shadow Cats, another novella from her sister Alodia's POV, but Alodia and Mara have very different relationships with Elisa and they see her at different points in her life.  

So, if you like The Girl of Fire and Thorn, you need to read this.  No, it's not essential to the story, but it's worth it just to expand the universe and get to know some of the side characters better. Plus, it's a great story in it's own right.  For me, it's a lovely 4 stars.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and now can't wait for The Bitter Kingdom to come out.

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