More People Should Read the Lion Hunters Series by EWein

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.

The chronological order of the books is as follows:
The Winter Prince
A Coalition of Lions
The Sunbird
The Lion Hunter
The Empty Kingdom

The Winter PrinceA Coalition of LionsThe SunbirdThe Lion HunterThe Empty Kingdom

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_by_RosaleeLuAnn

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):

RachelNeumeier_on_EWein

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:

RobinMcKinley_on_EWein

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.

Want Books: Mary Stewart’s Books

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

I know I usually only post about one book in each of my Want Books posts but I couldn’t help but write about all of Mary Stewart’s books. So far, I’ve only read one of her books: Nine Coaches Waiting. She’s such a delightful author and it seems like so many readers are fans of her work. That made me more excited to read the rest of her books. Her romantic suspense novels have all been re-issued in these lovely modern classics edition and I’ve managed to acquire five more of them.

Only a couple more until I have the entire set! Although I’ve been telling myself that I should finish reading the ones that I have before I buy the rest. I’m currently in the middle of The Moonspinners. Aside from her romantic suspense novels, Mary Stewart also wrote an intriguing Arthurian series, from Merlin’s point of view. I want these as well but they’re not locally available.

Someday, I will have a complete Mary Stewart collection. Maybe when I’m done trimming down the TBR pile. What about the rest of you, what books are in your wishlist? Are you obsessing about one particular author as well?

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

Song of the Sparrow is based on Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott, an Arthurian poem about Elaine of Ascolat. I’ve never read a novel in verse before and I thought it would be a good idea to start with this one because I like the premise. I don’t read a lot of Arthurian tales either although I remember reading Le Morte d’Arthur for English back in high school and I love Elizabeth E. Wein’s books. When I saw an inexpensive used copy from Julie’s Sari-Sari Store, I bought it right away. Thanks to Celina for the heads up on where I could find a copy.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Since the days of King Arthur, there have been poems and paintings created in her name. She is Elaine of Ascolat, the Lady of Shalott, and now there is a book all her own. The year is 490 A.D. and 16-year-old Elaine has a temperament to match her fiery red hair. Living on a military base with her father, brothers, and the rest of Arthur’s army, Elaine pines for the handsome Lancelot, and longs for a female friend. But when the cruel, beautiful Gwynivere arrives, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry. Can Elaine find the strength to survive the birth of a kingdom?

I was swept away by the beautiful writing in Song of the Sparrow. Maybe it’s because of the verse format but it felt like I was reading a fairy tale instead of a historical fiction book. I was easily immersed in the story and I knew right from the start that Elaine and I would get along just fine. Elaine is a girl stuck in a world full of men and she can be described as “one of the boys”. Her father brought her to Arthur’s camp when her mother died and she’s been there ever since. Her father and her two brothers fight alongside the knights of Arthur and she has great respect for all of them. As the only lady in their camp, Elaine’s sewing and healing skills are in great demand. She doesn’t mind because she’s friends with most of the men in their camp and she enjoys the freedom that her lifestyle allows. What I loved about Elaine’s character in this retelling is that she manages to show her strength without picking up a sword or fighting in a battle like other fantasy heroines (not that I don’t love them). Elaine’s infatuation with Lancelot is an integral part of the story because that’s what she’s famous for but I liked how the author provided a background for it – how Lancelot was always there whenever Elaine was lonely as a child and how he comes to the rescue the few times that Elaine needs help. It isn’t a tragic kind of love, which was how it was portrayed by other writers.

I don’t read much poetry so I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to relate to this one but surprise, surprise, the pages just flew by. To get a feel of the writing, check out the excerpt available in Lisa Ann Sandell’s website. The story provided not just a clear picture of Elaine but of other well-known characters like Gwynivere, Lancelot, Tristan and Arthur. I loved seeing how Elaine interacted with all of them, even Gwynivere who is everything Elaine isn’t – beautiful, ladylike, cold and cruel. I made an excellent decision when I chose Song of the Sparrow as my first novel in verse because now I’m curious about books written in a similar format. I wonder if other novels in verse are as lovely as this one. I highly recommend this to fans of Arthurian tales, retellings or novels in verse. Or maybe I should just say, read this if you want to fall in love with an exquisite retelling about Elaine of Ascolat, the Lady of Shalott.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Book Harbinger
See Michelle Read
Persnickety Snark
Inkcrush