Retro Friday is a meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville about books that are old favorites or books that bloggers think don’t get the attention they deserve. This is also a ploy to get Angie to read the books that I write about. 😛 I seem to be doing a lot of Retro Friday posts lately but I can’t help myself. I’m a huge Sherwood Smith fan and I feel like I don’t talk enough about her here in my blog. I was lucky enough to meet her when I went to States last year and I attended a Sounis/Athanarel joint meet-up. You can follow her blog posts in her LiveJournal, where she talks a lot about books and writing. Or you can join the LiveJournal community for Sherwood Smith fans: Athanarel, where you can post questions on any of her books or just write what you think about them. Anyway, today I’d like to talk about Sherwood’s Sasharia En Garde duology: Once a Princess and Twice a Prince.
Here’s the summary for Once a Princess from Samhain Publishing’s website:
Sasharia en Garde! Book 1.
Sasha’s mother, Sun, was once swept away from a Ren Faire to another world by a prince—literally—but there was no happy ending. Sun’s prince disappeared, and a wicked king took the Khanerenth throne. In the years since, Sasha and Sun have been back on Earth and on the run. Mom and daughter don’t quite see eye to eye on the situation—Sasha wants to stand and fight. Sun insists her prince will return for them one day; it’s safer to stay hidden.
Then Sasha is tricked into crossing the portal to Khanerenth. She’s more than ready to join the resistance, kick some bad-guy butt, and fix the broken kingdom. But… is the stylish pirate Zathdar the bad guy? Or artistic, dreamy Prince Jehan?
Back on Earth, Sun is furious Sasha has been kidnapped. Sun might once have been a rotten princess, but nobody messes with Mom!
Warning: This title contains a kick-butt mother-daughter team, a wicked king, a witty pirate with an unfortunate taste for neon colors, inept resistance fighters, a dreamy prince who gallops earnestly hither and yon, and a kick-butt princess in waiting.
I’m not going to post the summary for Twice a Prince because it contains spoilers for Once a Princess but I highly recommend that you purchase both books together as the first has a cliffhanger ending. I think that like Crown Duel, which was originally published as two books, Crown Duel and Court Duel, it would be better to read the two books together. Speaking of Crown Duel, the Sasharia En Garde duology starts in L.A. but Sasha travels to Sartorias-deles, the world where Crown Duel is set. The familiar characters in Crown Duel do not make an appearance in this one because they’re set in different kingdoms.
The main character, Sasha, is a female who is skilled in the art of swordplay. Spending years on the run, she has learned to protect herself by training on fencing and other fighting techniques. She is not a typical princess-in-waiting at all because she grew up on Earth living a normal life (if you can call always worrying whether someone is after you normal). Plus she’s tall and not dainty in any way. I also like Sasha’s humor and how she tries to make the best out of any situation. That’s Sasha in the cover right there, with her wild, curly, blonde hair and her “Got Books?” shirt. Don’t you just love that shirt? I want to have one just like it. The storytelling can be a bit confusing because aside from starting in L.A. and moving to Sartorias-deles, the point of view also changes from one person to another. If you stick with it though, I assure you that you’re in for quite a ride. I love Sherwood Smith’s worldbuilding and she’s been writing about Sartorias-deles since she was a child. The characters here are not cardboard cutouts, even the actions of the villains are explained. As always, I’m amazed at how well Sherwood writes about attraction and relationships and the implications involved.
Basically, the warning above sums it up well. If you’re a Crown Duel fan and you haven’t read this, you should get to it as soon as you can! I’d love to know what you think. I also recommend this for other fantasy fans out there who are interested in a fun and unusual adventure story. And if you haven’t read Crown Duel and have no idea what I’ve been talking about, click here to read one of my earlier reviews (originally posted in LiveJournal) and my attempt to convince others to read the book.