Welcome to The Elven Padawan’s part in the blog tour for Disowned, book #1 in the Allegiance series by Sarah Addison-Fox!!
Let’s start off with some info on the book itself:
“If you like non-magical fantasy with a strong dash of romance about a girl who fights against incredible odds to find freedom and her place in the world, then this is for you!” –Amazon Reviewer
“If I could give 10 stars I would. This book was difficult to put down and when I finished it I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt as though a part of me was missing and wandered around in a daze for days! How refreshing to read a book without being offended in any way. This author has a God-given talent and I wish her the very best!”
– Amazon Reviewer
About The Book:
Two countries, two choices, one life. When Kyraenean slave Celeste risks her life to reach the free nation of Etraea, a country filled with technology and wealth, she unknowingly sets off a chain of events that will change her life forever.
After escaping her new owner, Celeste awakens in the home of an Etraean soldier, sworn to protect the fragile peace. For Corporal Mick Haynes, life is simple. Follow the rules, do your job and work your way up the ranks. Getting shot and finding a wanted slave at his family’s farm wasn’t part of the plan.
When a Kyraenean bounty hunter locates Celeste, Mick’s loyalty will be stretched to the limit. With war on the horizon, Celeste faces two impossible choices. Both securing her freedom, but both at a cost she could never have imagined. Will Etraea provide the freedom she’s longed for or shackle her to an entirely new master?
About The Author:
Sarah Addison-Fox is a New Zealand-born home-schooling mother of two who loves action-packed, clean, fantasy with strong heroines. She has an astonishing amount of nail polish, has all her creative writing credentials shoved in a drawer somewhere, and has a husband who, after 27 years, can still make her blush. When she’s not working on both her YA fantasy series’ she can be found fangirling on Goodreads or sending GIFs on Twitter.
Sarah Addison’s Official Website: http://www.sarahaddisonfox.com/
Amazon & Social Media Links:
I’ll start by saying that I give this book about a 6.5-7 out of 10 stars. It’s good, and I would recommend it for something to read through on a weekend, but I think the author has a ton of potential that has yet to shine through.
Here’s the summary: Celeste is a slave girl on the run. When she tries to escape, she ends up badly injured, and is taken in by a sweet family who decides to help her on her journey, despite the fact that helping runaway slaves is absolutely forbidden in their country. But Celeste must decide if she’s willing to trust this family, and with the things she’s gone through in life, and things most young girl slaves know they are destined for, she’s not sure if she’s ready to trust anyone.
This family also happens to have a son who is a soldier. A soldier for the very government that bans the helping of slaves. And this son has been injured in war, just to come home for recovery and find out what exactly it is his family has been up to while he’s been gone. From this point on, their son, Mick, must figure out what side he stands on, and together, and he and Celeste will have to take it from there.
These characters have huge potential. I must say, I’m very intrigued to see where they will go from here, and where their individual and combined stories will take them in future books.
If I’m totally honest, I struggle a little bit with the “traumatized-girl-who-won’t-hardly-even-speak-and-must-take-a-long-time-to-decide-if-she-will-trust-people” thing. It’s not that I necessarily hate this trope, or that I find it unrealistic, or any of that. I just think it’s become rather over-used, and has become too much of a stereotypical role for characters, particularly female ones, to play; writers often give their characters this role in order to give a meaningful backstory, some conflict to play around with throughout the overall plot, and a strong upward character arc from not trusting anyone to accepting those who love them by the end of their story. Now like I said, it’s not that I will always hate this trope, but many times it just bugs me a bit. There are ways it can be twisted around, flipped on its head, or just shaken up a bit that will make it really go a long way in standing out and being unique (such as a character who secretly doesn’t trust anyone, but is super mouthy and brash to try to hide it). I felt like Celeste fell a tad too much into this simple character classification to really make her a breakout character for me, but that doesn’t mean she’s a bad character. A little weak, perhaps, but this could easily be fixed up in the next book, as long as the author isn’t afraid to let her strengthen a lot and really take up her own place in this story. As I kept reminding people (and my own self) with Rey when she first came on the scene of Star Wars in The Force Awakens, she’s still got quite a journey ahead of her.
Now, the character of Mick, on the other hand, is a wonderful example of the potential Ms. Addison-Fox has as a writer. This guy is very interesting on his own, and his conflict with Celeste (though not often with her directly, but more with what she represents), plays out in a very enticing way. In a way, Mick reminds me a bit of a Tony Stark-type character: brash, sarcastic, always with a smirk, trying to do the right thing, but undeniably flawed. Unable to understand exactly what he’s doing wrong. And why everyone doesn’t just instantly fall in love with him. Mick isn’t totally just a rip-off of Stark, more Stark-esque, and I appreciate that. This author wants to make her own characters, and she’s well on her way to doing so. For one, Mick is much more respectful of Celeste than Mr. Stark was of most women early on in his story arc. Even though he’s not sure what he thinks of her, and especially is conflicted over the fact that just his mere knowledge that there is a runaway slave could cost him – and his family – greatly, if he does not turn her in promptly. Throughout most of the book, he does attempt to keep up his always-got-it-under-control quippy persona, but it slips several times and you see that he’s wrestling with a lot deep inside, resulting in him getting drunk a couple of times, and the small handful of profanities this book as to offer (d— twice, and one instance of the British term “bl—y”). And even though I don’t really care for this content, it does go to show you that he’s a flawed, messed up person. I don’t mean that he’s totally depraved, or secretly twisted beyond humanity. But that he’s just confused. He’s really conflicted about what to do in this situation, whether he should turn Celeste in, how he should believe, what he should be fighting for – and his flaws, well, they make you see that.
To me, the characters are almost always the most important part of a story – but I will say some things on the plot. First – don’t be expecting The Battle of the Five Armies. I’m not saying this in a good or bad way, just stating a fact. Actually, I’m going to go ahead and make a call on this one: it’s a good thing. While the plot does pick up a bit later on in the book, most of it is dedicated to studying the main characters, showing us who they are, and projecting a path of where they’re headed next. It’s important for a reader to really know the characters they’re going to be within a story, and as this series seems to be setting out to go on quite a sprawling adventure over the course of its entirety, I think it was a good move to have most of book one taking place in and around the Hanyes family’s cottage. This gives you a firm grasp on the characters, what’s taking place between them (oh yeah, this is supposed to be a romance – I’ll get to that in a moment), and basically just lets you get a feel for the story itself.
Now, about this supposed “romance”. Yeah, there’s definitely something going on between Celeste and Mick, or at least, there will be sometime in the near future. This book did a good job setting up each of them as individuals, as I have already shown, and hinted at an interesting chemistry and what they could become together. That said, the romance in this book is actually pretty light. I was expecting it to be much more forward and pronounced but was pleasantly surprised. And I say pleasantly because any of you who know me will also know that I have very strong feelings about romance in stories and how it should be handled in order to make sure the characters and their relationship is able to really get the story it deserves.
If you’ve read any of the stuff I’ve written concerning Star Wars Rebels, it shouldn’t have taken you long to realize I’m quite the “Kanera” shipper. (That’s Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla to you non-Rebels devotees; and if you want to know more, you can find plenty about them and that show across this blog. 😉 ) But if you know much about those two characters and their relationship, then you’ll be much closer to understanding my view of romance in stories, what I care for and what I don’t, and why this is such a big deal to me. I think both characters should be well-developed in their own individual ways before a relationship is even thought of, and not that characters should be totally defined by relationships they’re in. Alongside of that is my opinion that a story should have a plot BESIDES simply “they fall in love and whatever” in order to really stand up on its own. A relationship of any kinda should contribute to the overall storyline, not be the main focus of it. Just like in real life, if you base everything on one single relationship, your story is going to fall apart before too long. Or the readers will just get bored and move on to something else.
This is yet another place where Ms. Addison-Fox knows what she’s doing, and I really hope she continues the trend this first book set throughout the entire series. She spent almost this entire book simply setting up each of her characters on their own, starting up their individual arcs and setting them on the path of their stories, which will inevitably collide in many ways, but will hopefully only strengthen because of that. There’s an obvious attraction between the Celeste and Mick, and they’re coming to realize it, but they still each have a journey of their own, too.
Finally, I need to address the “Christian” part of this book’s description. Friends and readers of mine, as well as those of you who listen to the podcast, should know I’m a Christian myself. But to be perfectly honest, even Christians don’t often care for “stories” that are really just badly-concealed moral messages that authors precede to try to stuff down their readers’ throats. This book doesn’t do that. There are some monks who are great helpers of escaped slaves (much like the Quakers and church leaders who helped escaped slaves in America during the time of the Underground Railroad), a few mentions of Etra, who is the God-figure in this world. And there’s certainly meant to be a message somewhere behind this story and each of the characters’ choices; seriously, what story isn’t this way?? But it wasn’t pushy, it wasn’t abrasive, and I think, all-in-all, it was handled in a very well-done and realistic fashion. I felt familiar in it as a Christian myself, and I’m eager to see where these characters go in their own simulations of the Christian journey, but Ms. Addion-Fox is handling this aspect of the story very well so far, and I think this will prove to her advantage as she spins her tale.
In closing, Disowned is an good read by itself, but I’m very eager to see the author further her skills in upcoming installments of the series, as I think she has amazing potential that has yet to be fully recognized.
I’m glad I was able to get to read this book and participate in this blog tour, and I definitely look forward with see what happens next with these characters and this world Ms. Addison-Fox has created. To quote a certain Chancellor, “We will be watching your career with great interest.” 😉
If you’re interested in checking out the other stops on this blog tour, then here’s the article about it over on the blog of Livy Lynn, who first contacted me about the chance to participate in this tour. (Oh, and on that note… hehe, well, apologies to Livy and Ms. Addison-Fox… if you take a look at that list, you’ll see that The Elven Padawan blog was down to publish this review on the 28th of Janurary, and for any of you nerds who cared to see exactly when this post of published, you’ll see it actually happened sometime around 2 a.m. on the 30th… *sheepish Ezra Bridger grin here*)
Thanks for checking out this post on the blog tour for Disowned! Remember, you can get the book on Amazon for only $.99 right now! If you’re a regular reader of The Elven Padawan blog, and you’re into writing and/or indy books, I encourage you to check out some of the other blogs on this tour, as many of them have some great content related to those topics! If you came over here specifically for this blog tour, then please hang around a bit and look at some of the other things around here! Especially if you’re a fan of Star Wars or Tolkien’s Legendarium, you might just find you enjoy the craziness my writers and I create here! (and don’t forget about the podcast; I haven’t been able to get a new episode out in the last few weeks due to some recent family complications, but I hope to amend that very soon) 😉 Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, here or anywhere else on this site for that matter, as we always love talking to our readers! 🙂