Book Roundup – March 2024

Apr 8, 2024 | Book Roundup

This month started out really well. I was so excited to be reading some really good books! Then I read some books that disgusted me enough to make me quit reading altogether. The initial draft of this post included those books along with my scathing comments.

Luckily, I didn’t have time to post it. Luckily, I got to sit with it awhile.

Upon reflection I realized that those books just weren’t for me, and that I wasn’t going to condemn an entire sub-genre because it wasn’t written with me in mind. So I cut them out. As a result, this month’s selection is rather sparse:

Revan: Star Wars Legends (The Old Republic) (Star Wars: The Old Republic Book 1) by Drew Karpyshyn, 5 stars

Almost four thousand years before the Skywalker saga, one of the most powerful Jedi was named Revan. When the Mandalorians attacked the Republic he led a Jedi force to oppose them, against the wishes of the Jedi Council. He not only beat them, he destroyed them. Then, in an inexplicable move, he fell to the Dark Side, turned others and led those forces against the Republic. The Jedi won, captured him, and returned him to the Light. He is seen as savior, traitor, or both, depending. With most of his memories erased, Revan lives in the shadows, tortured by nightmares of a lightning filled world of perpetual darkness. He’s determined to find out what the dreams mean, sure somehow that they’re portending doom for not just the Republic, but for everything.

If you’ve played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, you’ll be familiar with Revan and his story. But I was first introduced to him through Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Like World of Warcraft, I’ve been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic pretty much since it came out. I admit, before this I’d never been all that interested in Star Wars lore outside of the Skywalkers.

But I fell in love with this game. And some figures, like Revan and Lord Scourge, stuck with me. In the game on the Republic side, we rescue Revan from a stasis machine the Emperor used to feed off his power for three hundred years. (I haven’t played enough on the Empire side to know if they get the same quest.) Revan then goes on to do other things. This book covers the period after Revan loses his memory up until he’s captured by the Emperor.

What is it about some Star Wars figures and stories that so perfectly capture hope, bravery, desperation—the willingness to sacrifice even though a lot of times that was never the original intent? (Hello, Andor.) Going in I knew that Revan and Lord Scourge were doomed, and yet…and yet I went along, bearing witness.

It was a thrilling, bittersweet ride. The action is exciting, motivations are compelling. I listened to the audiobook—enhanced with music and sound effects, which only deepened the experience. Overall it was a solid, entertaining read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Couple things:
We know Revan’s story continues—eventually. But I don’t know what happened to Lord Scourge! I found him to be an interesting character, and I’d really like to know his ultimate fate.

Given the Emperor’s portrayal here, I’m surprised Vader and Luke managed to kill him almost four thousand years later. At that point he was at least five thousand years old and had been feeding on the dark side all that time. He was extremely over-powered in this book, and it seems to reason that he’d essentially be god-like in another four thousand years, especially since he’d long ago lost Revan’s balancing influence.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen the movie or read the book in a dogs age, and maybe it does actually make sense. Or maybe it only makes sense because the plot says it does. That’s the problem of a massive IP that’s mostly working backwards. Canon changes and you can’t account for everything.

 

The Sins of the Orc: An MM Monster Romance (Orc Forged) by Finley Fenn, 5 stars

In a world of orcs where strength is king, Kesst does what he can to survive. He’s not like other orcs, brawny and strong. He can’t fight. He’s learned to use his words and his body to please. It’s a hard life, but it’s a life. Efterar is a healer brought to orc mountain on secretive business. He’s big, ugly and speaks his mind. Kesst hates him on sight and does what he can to ruin him. An attack throws a wounded Kesst directly under Efterar’s care. For all he’s done Kesst expects to be belittled or abandoned to die, but instead, Efterar takes him in and treats his wounds. Saves his life.

Gah! This was such a beautiful story! The first line was utterly perfect, and the story never stopped being on-the-nose perfect. The characters were so thoroughly drawn that I felt like I knew Kesst and Efterar. Ms. Fenn took us under their skin and let us live inside them.

Both Kesst and Efterar are “broken”: Kesst by living as everyone’s plaything, having to mask his emotions because “no” could not be a part of his vocabulary; and Efterar by being raised among humans, and having to bear their fear and hatred even though he carries the gift of healing. In each other they find love and solace.

Ms. Fenn’s prose is stellar. Such a joy to read. I wish it were longer, but it said what it needed to say.  Highly recommend.

 

The Fall of the Orc: An MM Monster Romance (Orc Forged) by Finley Fenn, 5 stars

Orcs and men have been at war forever it seems. Lieutenant Aulis Gerrard has been a soldier all of his adult life. He’s a good officer who cares for his men, but he’s tired. Tired of his idiot commander, of sub-par equipment, of being overworked and under-supplied, of watching his men die in constant ill-advised battles. So when he finds himself fighting the captain of the brutal orc band, it’s not without a little relief. He will die, yes, but he’ll die on his feet like a warrior should. But the orc doesn’t kill him. The orc, Olarr, drops his axe and tells him to run.

If angst is your thing, this book has it in spades. Gerrard is suffering from PTSD and depression. Olarr’s entry into his life short-circuits all of that. He sparks challenge, cunning and the desire to live within Gerrard and its a beautiful thing to see. Of course Olarr has an agenda. But then so does Gerrard. The challenges are many, but they manage them—and left me smitten along the way.

I can’t stress enough how much I love Ms Fenn’s writing! Her character work is both bold and subtle—the deepening of Gerrard and Olarr’s relationship was honest and sexy. This is one of those books I’ll revisit again and again because I love it so much.

 

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