Revealing Rexa and Awakening Sand by Ella Stradling Review
I actually finished these two books a week ago, but didn’t have time to do a full review of both until now. For the purpose of Amazon, I just reviewed the last book, but wanted to provide readers here with a full overview for each of them. Those of you who enjoy fantasy adventure stories with romance intertwined may enjoy this one. I know I certainly did!
The first book, Revealing Rexa, begins with the search for a lost amulet. It must be reunited with the other one it belongs with. The two were created for a King and Queen long ago. After they died, their souls were bound into the amulets, along with the great powers they held. It was meant for succeeding Kings and Queens to wear the amulets in order to protect the land and rule it justly. Unfortunately, many centuries ago, the King’s amulet was lost and has not been seen since. The queen’s has continued to pass through the generations, allowing for some protection of the people, but now that magic alone will not be enough. There are dark forces at work that want to destroy the amulets and all of those who reside in the land.
This forces the royal houses to seek help from a class of people, Revealers, who wield magic and are experienced in fighting and carrying out important missions. Sand, one of the most powerful among this class, is tasked to aid the Queen and future King in their quest. Along with them is Miyam, a woman with her own powers, and secrets. Together they will embark on a dangerous journey that will take them across the land into places few have traveled or seen before. They are the only ones who may be successful before the dark forces take over.
This book truly captured my attention. It had everything I could ask for in a fantasy adventure. A complicated plot, romance, intrigue, and a fast pace. There seemed to never be a dull moment. The characters are fleshed out with unique personalities and the world building is full and rich. I also found the editing to be well done. The author truly captivated me with this tale. I should caveat this to let everyone know that there are no heavy sex scenes. Some people don’t like that in their fantasy reading and should be assured this is not a problem for this novel. On the other hand, if you prefer sex scenes, don’t be surprised that they are not in here. I can go either way in books so it is no problem for me. The romance provided was more than enough to satisfy my needs.
This novel came to a satisfying conclusion and I was able to finish it in about a day. When it came to the end, I purchased the next book right away. Partly because I enjoyed the first half of the story so much, and partly because it does end in a cliff-hanger. It was clearly meant to be a saga that continues on. If you are interested in this book, and don’t want spoilers, please stop here and grab the book. On the other hand, if you are one of those people who can’t help themselves and likes to know more about what will happen in book two, then you can read on.
The following is my full Amazon review for Awakening Sand:
Awakening Sand is the second novel following Revealing Rexa. It starts off right where the previous book left off. The king and queen’s amulets have finally been reunited after centuries apart only to be separated again when Netta (who holds the queen’s amulet) is kidnapped. This occurred at the end of the previous novel along with Sand, a revealer, being called to go save her. In the meantime, Sand’s unofficial wife, Miyam, is stuck preparing for upcoming tests so she can be promoted to journeyer in the revealer ranks. This means she cannot go with him to help. Netta’s husband Atwin, who holds the matching king’s amulet, is also impatient to participate in the search, but is being asked to wait for Sand’s arrival (who will have to travel for several weeks to reach him). He feels the distance growing between him and his wife through their link and is becoming frustrated by the inactivity. The longer it takes to find her, the further she will be taken and the more difficult it will be to find her. The kingdom cannot afford her loss right now and the journey to get her back will be filled with peril for all concerned. Not only this, but a war is looming on the horizon with the Kalkar and the human’s are ill-prepared to defend themselves against the nearly unstoppable force. Events will occur that forever change the face of the land.
I found the first book in the series, Revealing Rexa, to be a great read. It set up the world building, cast of characters, and a detailed plot (along with several sub-plots) to make for a strong story. It certainly had the elements of a good fantasy, but this second novel turned out to be even more of a page turner than its predecessor. The stakes are higher than ever and every character is in mortal danger as the enemy draws closer. There are two couples who get the most face time in the books- the first being Sand and Miyam, followed closely by Netta and Atwin. Both of their relationships were built in the previous novel and grow stronger in the second.
It is rare that I read strict fantasy, but once in a while I do like to delve into the genre for all its amazing characteristics. This series is a little less complicated and deep than A Song of Ice and Fire, but is perfect for those who wish for happier endings than that series provides. Its cast isn’t quite as large either, which made it easier to follow. I definitely enjoyed the romance that played out in these two novels. It came more naturally than other books I have read, but also had its own twists so nothing was easy on the characters involved. There are no sex scenes, but the author managed to supply enough passion between the couples that the relationships felt real and believable. Beyond the romance, the plot also takes a lot of twists and turns. Some of it is foreshadowed enough that you can predict it but other things will come as a surprise. I certainly felt the suspense throughout and feverishly turned the pages wanting to know what would happen next. The author’s imagination supplied an incredible story that has plenty of room to grow in future books.
One thing that niggled at me the entire time I was reading book one and the first part of book two was how the humans dealt with their Kalkar enemies. Keep in mind that I am ex-military and automatically look for weaknesses in my enemy to exploit, whereas not everyone does this, but I felt the smart cast of characters should have. The Kalkar only have two major weaknesses (for the most part). One is that they cannot move during the day and are stuck in place. The other is water will kill them if poured on their bodies in sufficient quantities. There were numerous times this advantage could have been utilized to protect the palaces and cities. Instead it was used minimally until the latter parts of book two. Some people might find this point bothersome like I did, others may not, but didn’t stop me from enjoying the story. I just had difficulty getting that point out of my head.
All in all, Awakening Sand proved to be an exciting read that was well worth the time. Those who enjoy fantasy novels should certainly give this one a try, along with those who like a good light romance or two in their fiction reading. It provides plenty of action, suspense, and magical elements to satisfy the preferences of a wide audience. I would certainly be willing to read future books released by this author!
For anyone interested in books past these first two, the author is planning to write novels that follow after them. She expects them to be released by 2013. There is not a major cliffhanger after Awakening Sand, though, so you will not be left with any unanswered questions. I do see plenty of room to expand on events that occurred in the first two and continue them further, which is a good thing!