Martha Wells' Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud was published by Night Shade Books (Start Publishing) in September 2014.
Information about Martha Wells:
Martha Wells is the author of five Ile-Rien novels (The Element of Fire, The Death of the Necromancer, The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air and The Gate of Gods), Books of the Raksura trilogy (The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea and The Siren Depths), City of Bones, Wheel of the Infinite, the Emilie series (Emilie and the Hollow World and Emilie and the Sky World), two Stargate Atlantis novels (Stargate Atlantis: Reliquary and Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement) and one Star Wars novel (Razor's Edge). She has also written short stories and non-fiction articles.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud:
Martha Wells returns to the Raksura with a pair of brand-new novellas!
In "The Falling World," Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud Court, has traveled with Chime and Balm to another Raksuran court. When she fails to return, her consort, Moon, along with Stone and a party of warriors and hunters, must track them down. Finding them turns out to be the easy part; freeing them from an ancient trap hidden in the depths of the Reaches is much more difficult.
"The Tale of Indigo and Cloud" explores the history of the Indigo Cloud Court, long before Moon was born. In the distant past, Indigo stole Cloud from Emerald Twilight. But in doing so, the reigning Queen Cerise and Indigo are now poised for a conflict that could spark war throughout all the courts of the Reaches.
Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With two brand-new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell...
A REVIEW OF MARTHA WELLS' STORIES OF THE RAKSURA: VOLUME ONE: THE FALLING WORLD & THE TALE OF INDIGO AND CLOUD
Martha Wells' Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud is an excellent collection of Raksura stories. Everybody who enjoyed reading Books of the Raksura trilogy will be thrilled to read this collection, because this collection demonstrates that there are plenty of intriguing stories to tell of the Raksura and the Three Worlds.
To those readers, who have never read Raksura novels and are not familiar with the Raksura, I can mention that the Raksura are shapeshifting beings. Their society and social hierachy is a bit reminiscent of the insect world. There are two breeds of the Raksura: the Arbora (teachers, hunters, soldiers and mentors) and the Aeriat (warriors, consorts and queens). The Arbora have no wings, but the Aeriat are winged Raksura. The Raksura have enemies called the Fell.
Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud is an essential companion to the Books of the Raksura trilogy and will be of interest to all fans of the Raksura novels. The stories in this collection reveal more information about the Raksura and shed some light on what has happened before Moon arrived to the Cloud Indigo Court.
If there are any readers out there who wonder if this collection was worth waiting for I can tell them that it was definitely worth waiting for and should be read by all readers who enjoyed reading the trilogy. This collection contains all the elements that readers have come to expect from the Raksura novels. The author doesn't disappoint fans of the novels, but delivers them beautifully written stories that will enthrall and delight them. All the stories in this collection deserve to be praised.
This collection contain two novellas and two short stories:
- "The Falling World" (novella)
- "The Tale of Indigo and Cloud" (novella)
- "The Forest Boy" (short story)
- "Adaptation" (short story)
It's a bit difficult to write about these stories without a few spoilers, but I'll try to limit the amount of spoilers to the minimum so that I won't spoil anybody's reading pleasure by too many revelations.
"The Falling World" tells of how Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud Court, travels with Chime and Balm to Ocean Winter, which is another Raksuran court. When visitors from Ocean Winter arrive and Jade doesn't return back to the Indigo Cloud Court, her consort, Moon, becomes worried. Moon and Stone - and a few other Raksura (warriors and hunters) - begin to track Jade and her companions down. During their search they find surprising things and notice that freeing the Raksura from an ancient trap is challenging and difficult...
"The Tale of Indigo and Cloud" tells of what happened long before Moon was born. This novella explores the history of the Indigo Cloud Court and tells what happened when Indigo returned with Cloud from Emerald Twilight. She stole Cloud and brought him with her to the court which caused problems for the reigning Queen Cerise...
"The Forest Boy" tells of Moon as a fledgling and "Adaptation" tells of Chime. (Readers who have visited the author's website may have noticed that both of these stories can be found there.)
The appendices at the end of this collection offer good information about the Raksura and their different Courts.
Ever since I read The Cloud Roads, I've been fascinated by the Raksura and also by the biology of the Raksura, because they're totally different from other species and races found in modern fantasy novels. Their different forms still continue to amaze and thrill me, because it's genuinely interesting to read about them, their lives and their fates. Although they're shapeshifting beings, there's something humane about them that makes it easy for the reader to care about them.
I'm also fascinated by the history of the Three Worlds, because there are many stories of the past among the inhabitants of the world. Martha Wells has created a vast fantasy world that has its own history, races and secrets, and at times she reveals new information about the past and also surprises her readers by other revelations. There are many mysteries concerning the past of the world and that's part of the charm of the Raksura novels and stories (for example, little is known about the flying island people).
There are many interesting scenes in these novellas and stories. For example, it was fascinating to read about Chime's eagerness to visit the libraries of Ocean Winter, because he wanted to find out more information concerning the shapeshifting change of the Raksura. It bothers him that he doesn't know much about what happened to him and he's obsessed with knowing more about the change.
What Moon and his companions find during their search for Jade is very interesting. I'm not going to reveal what they find, but I'll mention that it's a total surprise for them. I'm sure that all readers will find their astonishing discovery interesting.
Reading about Cerise and Indigo in "The Tale of Indigo and Cloud" was great. If you've ever wanted to know about the ancient Raksuran queens, now's your chance to read about them, because this story takes place before Moon's time.
It was great to read about how Indigo stole Cloud and what happened afterwards, because there are rules that the Raksuran courts must live by and obey, because rules and etiquette between different courts exist for a reason. What Indigo did was the worst possible violation of etiquette and the court of Emerald Twilight doesn't approve of it.
I enjoyed reading about how the theft of Cloud was explained and what caused Indigo to do it. I can mention that the young consort's life at the court of Emerald Twilight wasn't good and Indigo easily noticed it, because Cloud was ignored and was treated with contempt.
I also enjoyed reading about the conversation between Cerise and Argent, because they discussed why Indigo had stolen Argent's consort. This conversation was brilliantly entertaining and contained excellent dialogue that will please fans of sharp and well written dialogue.
I'll also briefly mention that the epilogue of "The Story of Indigo and Cloud" is interesting, because it take place many turns later. It's a fitting end to the novella.
I was already familiar with "The Forest Boy" and "Adaptation", because I had read them earlier. It was nice to read them again, because they're good short stories. It's nice that they've been added to this collection.
The characters in these stories are just as complex, diverse and sympathetic as in the novels. Their gender roles are explored believably, their actions are also believable and they have realistic problems. In my opinion the character interaction in these stories works perfectly. The author has managed to write about the characters in a realistic way that gives depth to them and fleshes out their different traits and feelings. The relationships and tensions between the characters are handled admirably.
The author writes well and surprisingly deeply about politics and the alliances between the different courts. It was interesting to read about politics and power play in the Raksuran courts, because their political system is based on the social structure and strict rules that define how to act and behave in the court (the author writes fluently about life in the court and what the Raksura do the and how the balance is maintained between different Raksura). The tensions and differences between the Raksuran courts are handled well.
Although there's plenty of politics to be found in the two novellas, it's nice that the author never lets the stories become too heavy with politics. She uses just the right amount of politics to keep the stories complex, but avoids drowning the stories in it. This is nice, because there's much more to these novellas than just politics.
It was nice that there was a bit of humour in these stories. As example of the author's humour I can mention that I think that everybody can't help but smile or even laugh out loud when they read about what one of the Raksura is called in "The Tale of Indigo and Cloud".
The worldbuilding is still as good as in Books of the Raksura trilogy. This was a nice surprise for me, because I enjoyed the worldbuilding in the trilogy. In my honest opinion the Three Worlds is one of the best created fantasy worlds in modern fantasy literature. There's something compelling and unique about it that makes the reader immediately attracted to it. To me, the most compelling aspects of this fantasy world are probably the vastness and depth of the world and the Raksura themselves, because they're complex beings.
Reading about the tree-people was genuinely fascinating for me, because they were fascinatingly different kind of beings and communicating with them was difficult. Beings like the tree-people are something that most authors probably wouldn't have dreamed of writing about, but Martha Wells has had courage and imagination to create this kind of beings and she has managed to make them a believable part of her fantasy world.
Different elements blend seamlessly in these stories and the author creates a coherent and compelling vision of a fantastical world where non-human characters have human-like problems and have to deal with such issues as friendship, survival, love, war and magic.
This collection will please all fans of Books of the Raksura trilogy and can be recommended to everybody who enjoyed reading it. It's possible that readers who have never read Books of the Raksura trilogy will enjoy this collection, because it consists of novellas and short stories that offer glimpses to the lives of the shapeshifting Raksura, but fans of the trilogy will probably enjoy it the most, because they're already familiar with the characters and the rich and detailed fantasy world.
I personally consider these Raksura stories and Books of the Raksura trilogy to be exceptionally good, because Martha Wells has created an interesting fantasy world that is inhabited by the shapeshifting Raksura and other beings. I think that all readers will be impressed by these stories and the trilogy, because everybody who appreciates quality and originality can't help but enjoy them.
Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud can be seen as proof of Martha Well's writing skills and her ability to write fascinating adult fantasy. It's fair to say that she's one of a kind when it comes to writing original fantasy stories and novels. She has never disappointed readers with her fantasy stories, because she has always managed to avoid clichés and has been able to create something new. She's a storyteller who's willing to take risks and explore new things. This is one of the reasons why readers should read these Raksura stories and Books of the Raksura trilogy, so don't be afraid to give them a chance to enchant you with their originality.
Readers who enjoy reading this collection will be delighted to know that the secod volume of Raksura stories will be published next year (the second volume is called Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below and it will be published in April 2015). I look forward to reading the second volume, because this collection was excellent and enjoyable fantasy entertainment for adult readers.
I have to mention that the cover art by Steve Argyle looks beautiful and fits the collection perfectly.
My final words are:
I highly recommend this collection to everybody who wants to read quality fantasy stories, and I especially recommend this collection to all who have read and enjoyed Books of the Raksura trilogy. This collection is perfect fantasy entertainment for adult readers, because there's originality, imagination, surprises and good prose in it. What more could you possibly hope for in a fantasy collection?