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[personal profile] starchased

This book, written by Alma Alexander, was one of the best novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It was gripping, compelling, beautiful, an elaborate tapestry of words wonderfully woven together to create a world that was at once real and mystical. The eight central characters -- Tai, Xaforn, Nhia, Qiaan, Liudan, Yuet, Tammary, and Khailin -- each had their own distinct personalities, and yet each drew from the others so easily. All had their faults, their good points, their weaknesses and their strengths. By the end of the book, you had experienced so many different emotions -- anger, hatred, sadness, grief, happiness. There were characters you wish had never existed. There were those you grew to love so much they seemed real. Utterly and completely real. The very idea of jin-shei is something I wish all women actually had in their lives. I myself would love to have a cadre of jin-shei sisters, and yet I realize I probably already do.

I cannot recommend this book enough. The characters develop into real people among the 492 pages of this volume. I shed tears over this book, towards the end. I was shocked, elated, angered, infuriated by the actions on the pages. This is a book that the second I finished it, I wanted to pick it up and start reading it again. I probably would have, if I didn't have three other books sitting on my nightstand, waiting to be read. It's a book I bought in a moment of impulsive shopping, and it's one I will probably read again and again. I don't regret buying it in the least, and I would highly, highly recommend it to all of you to read. Beth-chan has already taken my advice. :) I can't wait to discuss the book once she finishes reading it.

I don't know if I could possibly pick a favorite character from among the plethora introduced in the novel. I could, however, easily pick the one I hated the most -- Liudan, the Dragon Empress, who chose to rule on her own, and chose her jin-shei sisters out of mere necessity, and then never gave a second thought to the bond that linked them all together. It was because of the combined actions of herself and Khailin -- another of the circle -- that Yuet was killed by a raging mob. Yuet was the first of the circle to die, and her death made me very angry. Especially so, because of the way Liudan treated it. Yuet wasn't my favorite character by any stretch, but she most certainly did not deserve to die like she did, stoned to death by a vicious mob who believed her to be doing something she wasn't. If Liudan hadn't been so obsessed with immortality -- which she had charged Khailin, the alchemist, to get for her -- Yuet need never have died.

That, however, was not when I cried. I cried during my reading last night, when Xaforn died protecting Qiaan. Of course, the end of the following chapter had me nearly shaking with rage, for the way Liudan wanted Qiaan executed. It was horrifying. Thankfully, Nhia prevented that from happening ... and then learned that she didn't have to do that later, when informed by one of her lovers that Qiaan's people were going to rescue her. Qiaan was being held in a Guard cell, because Liudan didn't want to execute a convalescent, but Qiaan's people didn't want to save one either. Both sides were waiting until she was well. Nhia, however, didn't know Qiaan was on the verge of being rescued, and provided her with a poison to escape the horrifying death Liudan had planned for her. The one good that came out of this, when Nhia told Weylin (her lover), was that Weilyn informed her that there was going to be another attempt on Liudan's life, by poison. Instead, Nhia took that poison, and the fourth of the jin-shei circle died.

It would take me ages to analyze this entire book, so I shall leave it at what I have. I do hope some of you will take my advice, and get your hands on a copy. It really is a treasure of a book.

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Kristen

September 2011

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