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Phoenix

Review: Alaskan Fury (Guardians of the First Realm Book 2) by Sara King

fury“It is the mark of the mind untrained to take its own processes as valid for all men, and its own judgments for absolute truth.” ― Aleister Crowley, Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on The Book of the Law

Ah, the hubris of the male of the species. No, it doesn’t really matter what species. Human. Shifter. Full animal. But make that a multiple centuries old Wereverine, and all bets are off. I mean, come on, Dude. You know the Hunters are out to get you. You know they will kill anyone and everyone they have to to get their hands on your lovely little Phoenix mate. And what do you do? You still want to run around out in the woods, advertising the poor, lonely werewolf in the woods who only needs a goodhearted little human female to love and protect. Snort. Like the Hunters aren’t going to figure it out?!?! Sigh.

The second in Sara King’s Guardians of the First Realm series, after Alaskan Fire is Alaskan Fury, and it is a fast thrill ride from the first. The wereverine being careless and self-centered is what got them into trouble last time, but they survived. But this time it may cost all of the residents of Blaze the Phoenix’s lodge their firefreedom – or their lives. But then, for people who turn into animals, or spirits who pop out of different realms, what is the difference?

Kaashifah the Fury, Chosen warrior of the Lord of War, has spent centuries tied to the djinn ‘Aqrab of the Fourth lands, each waiting for the other’s death blow. A blow that will place one or the other at the eternal mercy of the one who deals the blow. Deadly enemies, they are forced to live side-by-side through the ages, waiting for a wish that never comes. But now, to save their friends and neighbors, as well as save themselves from the Inquisition, they must put aside everything and work together for the good of all.

Again, King has written a fast paced, thoughtful novel of not only paranormals, but of those who hunt them. The tale twists and turns, giving both sides of the story, from the paranormals who only want to be left alone in the vastness of Alaska to the Hunters who are trained from birth to hunt, use, and kill them. The characters are diverse and well written, though again there needed to be an editor, so keep that in mind. There are unusual characters here, from Wereverine (were wolverine) to Phoenix, Fury, Djinn and more. Overall, a strong read for those who like strong women characters, fast paced action, and a good story line.

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Alaskan Fire – Book One, Guardians of the First Realm by Sara King – A Keeper

“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.” – George R. R. Martin

It wasn’t supposed to be, well, “easy,” not exactly. I mean, moving into an isolated, 10,000 square foot fishing lodge in the backwoods of Alaska isn’t for the weak of heart or soul. But when you inherit a good bit of money, just enough to buy your dream, it is hard to think about all the things that can happen when you are a 6’4” woman with orange hair, huge feet, and a childhood wish to run a back country fishing lodge. So, Blaze dove in, monster feet first. But, well, yeah. Stuff happens.

“Stuff” like your handyman suddenly turning into a were wolverine and attacking not an hour after the bush plane drops her off on the banks of Lake Ebony on the Yentna River. Yep. Things are going downhill from here, toot sweet. Oh, werewolves and wolverine, dragons and Thunderbird and, well, you get the point. And baby, “Something Wicked definitely this way comes…” But, darn it, this is HER place – even if a curmudgeonly, foul tempered, bad mouthed wolverine IS accusing her of being some kind of fantasy creature bent on elbowing in on “his” territory. Hey, she has the proof of her ownership of those thirty acres in her safety deposit box! Jerk.

I was truly surprised and thrilled to find a new-to-me author I am now so enthralled with. Alaskan Fire is a new sort of beast. A fantasy/paranormal with new and fascinating world and character building. Yes, there are the “standard” list of fantasy characters. Weres and dragons, etcetera. But done with an interesting twist of characterization and storyline that created a book I honestly couldn’t put down. And rather than gulping the book in huge bites, I savored it, taking my time and learning to love a couple of pretty unusual oddballs. Let’s face it. Jack the wereverine is someone that I would normally absolutely “despise” in any other situation. From the first, I hated him. I mean really hated him. But stepping back, I began to learn who he was, deep down. All the millennia of being alive, through a time when man was barely walking erect, through the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, and beyond . . . centuries without measure, filled with love and loss and more pain than any one creature should be forced to bear. Yep. Jack is a piece of work. And before it was over, well, I may never be a charter member of the Jack Fan Club, but I absolutely want to continue the story. Because this? Well, this was awesome.

“I read once that the ancient Egyptians had fifty words for sand & the Eskimos had a hundred words for snow. I wish I had a thousand words for love, but all that comes to mind is the way you move against me while you sleep & there are no words for that.” ― Brian Andreas, Story People: Selected Stories & Drawings of Brian Andreas

I will warn you that Ms. King has an obsessive love affair with misplaced and unnecessary commas, as well as unnecessary hyphens, so expect it. Yes, she needs an editor. But her writing overall is so compelling even I was able to overlook it. And that is pretty darn special. Oh, and this is not the “meet the guy and hump him within five minutes” story. This is much, much better than that. Those are fine, in their place, but this is a real, honest to goodness novel with power to spare. There is a somewhat “HEA” … but I see a lot more in store for Blaze and Jack than some simple ending. A lot more.

“Alaskan Fire” is the first of Sara King’s “Guardians of the First Realm” series. Book two is “Alaskan Fury” and I already have it downloaded. Here’s a hint for Were and Human alike – these are Kindle Unlimited, so what are you waiting for?!

 

Black Dust Mambo – Adrian Phoenix

A four-star winner – An excellent start to a promising series

blackTo start off, I have not read any other of the Phoenix books. I picked up the book based on the title, the premise, and what I read in the description at Amazon. As anyone knows who has read my reviews, all you have to do is mention Louisiana and it’s people, culture, and belief and I am right there, trying it out.

This book is not the best I have ever read on the subject, but it is very, very far from the worst. I have great hopes for this as an ongoing series, it shows great promise. It does, indeed, take place in one 24-hour period. Some people didn’t like that, I found it a great take on a beginning. But then, I liked the series “24” also. Fast action is my forte. What is more interesting to me is world-building and character development. Phoenix does the one in a fast, solid, believable manner, which I find quite encouraging. Hers is a realistic subculture, which could very much be set within our own world. The character development is short, but concise, and will give us the opportunity to learn the characters over time. I like that.

As for the comment from one reviewer that the Voudon was not well realized, one must realize that not everyone is a Voudon practitioner, just as not everyone is Catholic. Those are some strange rites there, too, but I don’t have to know how to do them, or necessarily want to. And besides, if I want a lecture on Voudon, all I have to do is go to my bookcase. But be that as it may, she may not have gotten it ‘right’ in some expectations, but this is, after all, a novel. Right?

As for the ‘romance’ I really liked that it was, in some people’s estimation, “slow.” Hey, this WAS set in a 24-hour period, right? Shouldn’t it take a bit of time to develop a ‘love interest’? So many books of this type today are thinly veiled erotica with very little story line, it is refreshing to see a female lead not jumping right into bed in the first chapter with the character you hope to see as the ‘love interest’. I am hoping Ms. Phoenix allows the relationship to grow over time. MUCH more interesting in the long run! (Of course, I wouldn’t have kicked Gabe out of bed either – a shame he had to get killed off in the first 2 pages! lol)

I didn’t really care for the language that much – I despise the word “ain’t” and cringed every time it came up. But, having lived in the South for thirty years, I understand what the author is saying – I just don’t have to like it! But, then again, it wouldn’t be realistic without it, so, be that as it may.

All in all, I have already downloaded “Black Dust Loa” and am looking forward to seeing if she meets the promise of the first book. I am also checking out her other books, and will find it interesting to see if Ms. Phoenix lands on my “must read” list.

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