Code Name Verity (CNV) by Elizabeth Wein was one of my favorite reads last year. I was actively promoting CNV even before it came out because I knew it was going to be amazing based on EWein’s previous novels – her Aksumite series called the Lion Hunters. Also, I was hoping that if CNV does well, then more readers will also pick up her other books and she can publish another novel in the series. I’m ecstatic at how well-received CNV has been – it has received awards and recognition that it deserves – but it looks like the Lion Hunters series still isn’t getting enough attention. I was expecting readers who fell in love with CNV to be curious about EWein’s other novels, especially since they’re all well-written historical fiction. It makes me sad that it hasn’t happened yet. Because I desperately want the next (is it going to be the final one?) book in the series to be published, I’m working on getting more readers to pick up these books! EWein said that the publication of the next book depends on reader support. Have you ever experienced reading a remarkable series and you’re astounded that so few readers are aware of it? That’s how I feel about this series.
These novels are set in sixth century Aksum (Ethiopia) and I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel in that setting before. Readers new to the series can start with any of the first three books but the latter three books have to be read in order. Does that make sense? I read The Sunbird first and then The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom because those were the only ones available in Manila at that time. I was able to get copies of both The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions when I want to the States in 2009. All of the books in are wonderful but I love the latter three because they focus on my favorite character in the series: Telemakos. This half-British, half-Ethiopian boy is sneaky, clever and wise beyond his years. I also love his interactions with the rest of the characters in the series – the relationships in these novels are definitely complex, which shouldn’t be surprising since the novels have intelligent characters involved in political intrigue.
Telemakos, as drawn by RosaleeLuAnn
The Winter Prince is an Arthurian retelling, with the story told from the point of view of Medraut (Mordred). So all Arthurian fans out there, that’s another reason for you to give this series a try. Here’s the summary of The Winter Prince from Goodreads:
Medraut is the eldest son of Artos, high king of Britain; and, but for an accident of birth, would-be heir to the throne. Instead, his younger half-brother, Lleu, is chosen to be prince of Britain. Lleu is fragile, often ill, unskilled in weaponry and statesmanship, and childishly afraid of the dark. Even Lleu’s twin sister, Goewin, seems more suited to rule the kingdom.
Medraut cannot bear to be commanded and contradicted by this weakling brother who he feels has usurped his birthright and his father’s favor. Torn and bitter, haunted by jealousy, self-doubt, and thwarted ambition, he joins Morgause, the high king’s treacherous sister, in a plot to force Artos to forfeit his power and kingdom in exchange for Lleu’s life. But this plot soon proves to be much more – a battlefield on which Medraut is forced to decide, for good or evil, where his own allegiance truly lies…
I’m posting only the summary to the first book in the series to avoid spoilers. To further convince readers to pick up the books, I compiled snippets from what other authors have to say about EWein’s the Lion Hunters. Here’s a tweet from Rachel Neumeier (author of House of Shadows, The City in the Lake, The Floating Islands):
The next tweet exchange surprised me because Robin McKinley (author of The Blue Sword, Beauty, Pegasus and so many other fantastic novels) is one of my favorite authors of all time, and I had no idea that she helped EWein get published:
Aside from these two lovely authors, Megan Whalen Turner (author of the Queen’s Thief series, you would know who she is if you’ve been following my blog for a while) is also a fan of EWein’s work. EWein even wrote a guest post for Queen’s Thief Week about the similarities and differences between Telemakos and Eugenides.
Another favorite author, Sherwood Smith (author of The Crown Duel, the Inda series, the Sasharia en Garde duology and the Wren series), said this about The Sunbird:
Intense, spare and vivid, this story builds, with subtle characterizations, and some sharply dramatic and painful moments.
I’ve recommended it to readers who like Megan Whalen Turner’s work, and heard back that this was a successful pairing.
If you’re a fan of these authors, their recommendations will probably be enough to make you curious about the books. If you feel like we have similar tastes in books, then I have a feeling that this post will be enough to convince you to read at least one of the Aksumite novels. I wish I had my copies of these books here with me but unfortunately, they are all back home. Writing this post is making me want to reread the books. Have you read the Lion Hunters novels? Please help me spread the word about them if you have. I would also appreciate hearing your thoughts about the books, feel free to rave about them in the comments to encourage more readers.