Aloha and welcome to my tour stop for Realm of Ruins by Hannah West!
Much mahalo (thanks) to The Fantastic Flying Book Club, Holiday House Publishing and Ms. West for gracing me with copies of Kingdom of Ash and Briars and Realm of Ruins in exchange for my honest review.
Here is the tour schedule if you would like to follow: TOUR SCHEDULE
“An ancient thing, lurking beyond time, trapped by a sea witch’s spell as I was.”
———- Book Info ———-
Realm of Ruins is the third novel of the Nissera chronicles BUT can be read as a stand alone! It is not part of a series but is a companion to its predecessors Kingdom of Ash and Briars and Fields of Fire. I will include synopses of all for those of you interested in reading in order like me 🙂
Kingdom of Ash and Briars
Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.
Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.
Fields of Fire
Return to the magical realm of Nissera in this stunning short story, set within the events of Kingdom of Ash and Briars, and get ready for Hannah West’s forthcoming companion novel, Realm of Ruins.
Every battle counts in the war to save Nissera from Tamarice and her army of darkness—including those fought on the smallest fronts. In a hay-filled barn far off in the countryside, a small group of spies led by a courageous young warrior named Drell is about to launch an offensive in order to root out the identity of a shadowy alchemist. If Drell’s team is successful, one of Tamarice’s most dangerous accomplices will be destroyed. If they fail, the sorceress will come into possession of a weapon that could turn the tide of the war against them in the blink of an eye. Drell knows everything must play out perfectly for their mission to be successful, but even she cannot fathom the depths of the alchemist’s cruelty—or the sacrifices her own spies are willing to make to stop him…
In Kingdom of Ash and Briars, West wove together classic fairy tale motifs with her own lyrical prose and captivating characters to introduce the world of Nissera and the sorcerous powers battling over it. In Fields of Fire, we see another facet of that war—fought by ordinary women and men as well as powerful Elicromancers—setting the stage for Realm of Ruins… in which the peaceful future Drell and Bristal fought for so fiercely is threatened by a powerful enemy from the distant past.
Realm of Ruin
Valory’s power is different . . . it’s dangerous, unruly, and destructive. But can she channel it to crush a cunning enemy and save the realm from chaos?
Welcome to Nissera, land of three kingdoms and home to spectacular magic.
A century after her legendary ancestors overcame a bloodthirsty tyrant, seventeen-year-old Valory Braiosa attends a training academy for elicromancers, immortal beings with magical gifts. Yet Valory’s immense power seems impossible to tame, and she faces imprisonment by the Nisseran authorities. Then a forbidden resurrection spell awakens a long-dormant evil, and Valory may be the only one who can vanquish this terrifying villain. Together with a band of allies—including an old friend; a haughty princess; and a mysterious, handsome stranger—Valory must learn to harness her power and fight back.
Weaving together her imaginative world of gritty fairytale magic with snippets from Beauty and the Beast and other classic stories, Hannah West’s dark and dangerous adventure is a gripping, immersive companion to her acclaimed debut, Kingdom of Ash and Briars. This richly packaged edition includes an illustrated family tree, detailed map, and embossed jacket with shimmering metallic effects.
“The bastard is welcome to fight me for it.”
———- Author Bio ———-
“The only answer for now was to attempt to suffocate the magic I had always longed to possess – to appear unthreatening and untroublesome, even as everything inside me insisted I was neither.”
———- Review ———
*Although I was given the first book and read it, I will only be providing a review here for the tour stop book Realm of Ruins.*
Realm of Ruins occurs 100 years after Kingdom of Ash and Briars and follows Valory – a descendant of our first book’s heroine Bristal. None of the original characters are present in ROR so it can be read completely as a stand alone.
The plot line has Valory as a top student in the elicromancer training academy and she struggles with having no magic of her own especially when her entire family has. Treated like an outcast by her peers, and surrounded by a magical heritage at home, she feels like she doesn’t fit in and struggles with her identity. On her 17th birthday, Valory’s life turns completely upside down…. and not in a good way. After trailing her cousin to the legendary lake that bestows magic upon those worthy of it, she’s accused of murdering said cousin and for making the magical lake disappear. Faced with returning with a new unknown power within her and having only a handful of people believing her story, Valory is faced with her power either being her salvation or her damnation.
For me, this plot line was very similar to that of The Black Witch chronicles by Laurie Forest. We have a young girl who’s family has the greatest magic of all their peerage and yet she has yet to grow into hers. She attends a training academy where people mistreat and bully her because of her lack of magic. Elloren, like Valory, finally gets magic although not in the way they want it and so their lives are forever changed because of those pivotal moments. I don’t want to spoil too much for you but basically if you were to read these two back to back, you would be “rereading” the same stories.
Because of this similarity, I had a very hard time staying committed to ROR because I felt I was rereading TBW. But aside from that, this was very well written and the plot line was full of mystery, intrigue and beautiful descriptions. I loved Valory’s growth – she was outstanding in how she matured into adulthood especially with the aftermath and consequences that followed her tragic birthday. She excelled where many would have faltered and a lot of that had to do with her little support group. I strongly believe that without those people, she wouldn’t have succeeded as quickly as she did. All of the obstacles she faced were not “fluff”, and had their own purposes. Sometimes authors include challenges that actually take away from the plot but not here.
Overall, I would give this a rating of 4/5 because of the gorgeous story telling and amazing character growth. I think the story line was too similar to another’s and so I wouldn’t rate it a perfect 5. I still highly recommended this book as it has important values for the younger generation such as bullying, overcoming adversity and having a good support group no matter how small.
———- GIVEAWAY ———-
Win 1 of 5 bundles of the Nissera Chronicles (US Only)
Bundle includes: 1 x physical copy of Kingdom of Ash and Briars + 1 x physical copy of Realm of Ruins.
Giveaway starts: 12/4/18 Giveaway finishes: 12/17/18