Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Book Review of the Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams

Buy from Amazon!
War ravages Leira and the Song has fallen silent 

Freed from the hold of a slave ship, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, and Ky, a street-wise thief, emerge to a world at war. Hordes of dark soldiers march across Leira, shadowed by whispers of plague and massacres, prompting Ky to return to his besieged home city in hopes of leading his fellow runners to safety. 

Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into the heart of the Takhran’s fortress. Legend speaks of a mythical spring buried within and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it to achieve victory. Everyone believes Birdie is the one, but the elusive nature of the Song and rumors of other gifted individuals lead her to doubt her role. Unleashing the spring could defeat the Takhran once and for all, but can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call? 

Series: The Songkeeper Chronicles (Book 2)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Enclave Publishing (April 15, 2016)
Page Count: 320 pages

I had the privilege to be on the launch team for this book, so I got an advanced reader copy! Life got in the way of getting this review up on time, but it's up now and that's what counts. 

The Plot: The plot is far darker than the first one with more action and magic--and the added obstacle of disease. The Khelari have grown much stronger making an even bigger threat for Amos, Birdie, and Ky. The evil army is hitting places close to home. There are some good twists and lots of battles. The plot definitely focuses a bit more on the character development than the first one did. Orphan's Song had more plot. This one had more of well, both, really. 

The Characters: Birdie has definitely grown up a lot. The poor dear goes through so much, and she's definitely struggling in this book since the Song has been silent for her. I really love how her character develops in this story.

Ky definitely has a lot of growing in this story. His sacrificial nature and his leadership potential blossoms in this story. He is kind and brave and I love his sling. 

Amos stays pretty much the same Scottish peddler we know, except he begins to accept Birdie for who she is. Birdie is the Songkeeper despite how he feels about it. There are some funny exchanges between him and the "catbird."

In addition to characters in the first book like Cade, Gundhrold, Rhudashka, and the dwarves we get a whole bunch of new ones such as the Saari warriors Sym and Inali, and Migdon the sweet talking, sly dwarf. I really like the fact that Saari warriors ride lions. It's so cool! The two little underground kids Meli and Syd are adorable. 

I like that in this book the enemy doesn't seem so faceless. The post book it was Carhartan but we didn't have as much interaction as we did finally at the end of Songkeeper. I hope the next book has even more. It's sometimes cool to have the distant overlord, but I like it when the main character gets more up close and personal. 

The Setting: I like the settings in this book much more in the first one. There is a pirate ship, a desert, and a really scary prison called Seren Vroi. The characters even mentioned that salt flats are somewhere in this story worlds. Salt flats fascinate me so I really hope they show up in the next book! We also get to know a lot more about the history of the world, about the Great Singer, the Song Spring, Songlings, dark magic with bloodstones also known as talavs. 

Epic Things: I really liked that Gillian included more obscure magical beasts such as chimera and a cool twist on a hippogriff. More on that below. I liked the powers of the Song and I hope to see more of them in the third book since in this book one of the big points is that it's strangely disappeared. I like that she can hear the songs of others even when they're doing. 

The Theme: The characters, especially Birdie and Amos, struggle with control, and faith. Birdie has mysteriously lost the Song. She begins to doubt herself as the songkeepeer, and tries her hardest to get it back. Rhudashka the evil pirate even tries to make her use it for his amusement. Amos has always struggled with faith and you see him more visibly wrestle with it in this story. Birdie hates feeling like she can't control her life andn ot even the song. She hates feeling helpless and dependent. But as the story learns it's that life is often out of our control. One of the villain's temptations to her is that he can give her control, no more guessing and seeking faith. This rang to me personally considering I like control. I like having a plan with my life. It's hard to accept that I can't keep bad things from happening no matter how many precautions I take. 

Content Cautions: There isn't any swearing or sexual content to note. There is a lot of magic and as I've mentioned a far darker brand than the first book, but it's used by evil characters not good. The most notable caution is the violence. There is quite a bit of stabbing, throats cut, people dying of starvation, even people that should be dead being preserved by magic. It was nothing that made me cringe, but it was a little graphic.

 white fever medieval bioweapon,traitorous Paddy and Cade, chimera, cool, creepy nasty the pit, hippogriff, neat spin on Raven hippogriff,  contagonist Cade, sad but hopefully ending, faith through a time of quiet, 

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) New Technology Made Old - One thing I thought was really cool, but really diabolical about Songkeeper was the use of a primitive bioweapon. The Khelari actually use dead diseased bodies to try to wipe out a city. This alludes to modern biological warfare. Gillian takes a modern concept but converts it so it can be be used with her storyworld's technology. Brilliant!

How this can be applied to writing: Have you ever thought of using new technology and converting it to be used with older technology? I did something like this when one of my characters in Red Hood invented a heart monitor using 1850s technology. This is another great instance where asking, "What if?" can be effective.

2.) Obscure Mythical Beasts and Twists on mythical Beasts - Gillian has some pretty cool mythical creatures in this book especially the chimera and the creative twist on a hypogriff. Instead of making it half horse half eagle, she made it half horse half raven, which turned out to be really and creepy. 

How this can be applied to writing: I love dragons and elves and dwarves as much as the next person, but I also love obscure mythical beasts that don't get any love. E. Rawls over at her blog made a great list of some obscure beasts even I didn't know about. And I've researched a lot, let me tell you. I got bored at my aunt's house and researched cryptids for three hours. There are so many cool ones to be explored. I'm using zburators, feydragons, enfields, and shedu in my stories. 

3.) Contagonists - Cade isn't necessarily a bad guy, but he does stand in Ky's way during this book. He often stops Ky's progress, but ultimately he doesn't wish Ky severe harm in any way. He has his own ideals which clash with Ky, making him a contagonist. This makes a great obstacle for Ky especially since he's admired Cade for years. 

How this can be applied to writing: Sometimes even the good guys don't get along in your stories, sometimes this escalates to the position of contagonist. Unlike an antagonist, a contagonist isn't the bad guy, but someone who hinder's the protagonist's goals nonetheless. These can add some interesting dynamics to your story and added depth to your character relationships. I think I may have to write a post devoted to these. Hmmm ..

Songkeeper is a great sequel to Orphan's Song. I like it better than the first and it ends bittersweet. I'm looking forward to the next book!

About the Author:
Gillian Bronte Adams was born with a pen in her hand, a sword at her side, and a saddle beneath her feet. As a speculative fiction writer from the great state of Texas, she delights in combining epic adventure and fantasy with themes that point to the greatest story of all—or, as she refers to it, writing to the echoes of eternity. During the day, she works as the Equine Director at a Christian youth camp, while at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs and transforms into a novelist. You can find out more at her on her blogFacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Don't forget to check out the first book of the series!

If you liked this post, come back every other Tuesday for book reviews; Friday for tags, character interviews, and link-ups; Saturdays for writing advice and life updates; and Sundays for the Writerly Bundle which includes a new soundtrack piece, vocabulary word, and tea review!

No comments:

Post a Comment