Esmes Indie Highlights/SPFBO: A Star Reckoners Lot by Darrell Drake

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I read this a while back and have already done a review for it, but it doesn’t match the current review style I’ve been doing for all the other SPFBO books, so I’m re-doing it. There are a bunch of books I’m going to do that for since I want all 100 to have the same layout.

ASRL has been picked as a semi finalist, yay Darrell!

As a side note, I really love the new cover for this book – super gorgeous.


Plot:

This story follows a Star Reckoner, which is a person who can use the power of the stars to do some serious magic – but it’s a very risky kind of magic. Star Reckoning is a gamble of whether or not your ‘lot’ will be favored and when it fails it can have devastating consequences including killing people around you.

Asht is the main character and she’s on a mission of revenge against a Div who has killed someone close to her, and on her way tracking down this Div she has a bunch of mini quests helping people with curses and other things.

Asht is escorted by two companions, her cousin Tridad and a half-div named Waray, and a lot of the plot is moving through ancient Iran tracking Divs and having adventures.


Characters:

  • Ashtadukht – a rare female star reckoner, she’s handicapped and relied on her brother for most of her life as someone she depended on for day to day struggles. Her handicap makes physical exertion difficult and sometimes she has to be carried places when she gets overwhelmed. She also has struggled with serious depression issues and drug dependency, it’s nice to see things like that being addressed in fantasy, I feel like it doesn’t come up enough.
  • Tirdad – Asht’s cousin, he’s a fairly straight forward kind of guy who takes his honor and integrity seriously. The relationship between Tirdad and Asht was an up and down roller coaster and it really added dynamic to the travels.
  • Waray – a bizarre egg loving half-div who’s not quite right in the head, you never know if she’s going to be standing over you as you sleep debating killing you or not. She’s a prankster, had strange and funny dialogue, and was my overall favorite character. She’s searching for her family and tagging along with Asht and Tardid as they look for the Div Asht wants to kill.

There are a few twists to the characters backgrounds that kept things really interesting all the way to the end, and the relationships between these three was really endearing, I loved their interactions.


World Building:

This takes place in ancient Iran which is a really unique setting for fantasy, you can tell it’s been well researched and even prompted me to look into a bit of the culture from this time period since I didn’t know anything about it. It’s not a book that takes place all in the desert either, despite them visiting a desert and Waray getting “sand in all her places”, there are other settings in Iran that were covered, it wasn’t just dunes and sand.

I liked the lore and the different kinds of divs you meet along the way, some of them have 40 arms while others look like animals, some look vaguely human or even take human form.

There’s curses you can put on people and make them rot from the inside out, there’s creatures that give you strange and appealing dreams as they suck out your soul – there’s a lot of cool stuff going on


Pacing/Tone/Writing:

This is a short book and there’s a lot going on so the pacing is very fast, it’s also sped up since many of the plot lines are ‘mini quests’ and the problem is solved and they move on to the next thing which keeps the pace up. There’s def no info dumping/world building slog or meandering with this story.

The tone was sort of a roller coaster, there were funny moments, and super sad moments, and tense moments of action, it sort of touches on everything.

There’s a bunch of puns and a few scattered cultural references which will probably give you a chuckle from time to time – but it’s not a *reference* kind of book, it’s not Kings of the Wyld or Ready Player One, it’s more mild than that.

There’s also definitely cursing and sex in this book, so consider yourself warned!

This is also a stand alone book, and at 280ish pages it’s super quick – if you’re looking for something to break up long doorstopping reads this would be a great pick.


Audience:

  • People who like fast pacing
  • People who like puns
  • People who like non human characters
  • People who like dangerous magic
  • People who like unique settings and magic systems
  • People who like shorter books
  • People who like stand alones

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