So thrilled to be able to talk about this book today. We unveiled the book trailer a couple of weeks ago on Project Mayhem, and will reveal the winner of a signed copy at the end of this post!
What It's About (from HarperCollins website):
Deep in the jungles of the Realm, the Sandwen clan live amongst deadly spit dragons and hordes of warring giants. But with their winged battle horses, they manage to keep their people safe.
Twelve-year-old Rahkki is a stable groom for the Riders in the Sandwen army, taking care of his brother’s winged stallion. The Sandwens believe they have tamed all the wild pegasi in their land, and turned them into flying warhorses. But when a herd of wild steeds flies over their village, Rahkki and his clanmates are stunned.
Meanwhile, a small herd of pegasi have journeyed across a treacherous ocean to settle in a new and free land. Led by Echofrost and Hazelwind, the Storm Herd steeds are unaware of the Sandwens. But when the unthinkable happens, Echofrost and the rest of Storm Herd will have to come to trust the Sandwens, or both may not survive.
"Every Sandwen child dreamed of riding a winged horse, though most never would, and one would rather not."
What I Loved About It:
Jennifer Lynn Alvarez is one of the most talented and most professional middle grade writers around. Her Guardian Herd books have a devoted following, and now she has a new series that I think will be equally popular: Riders of the Realm.
In this first book, subtitled Across the Dark Water, a band of Pegasi have escaped the terrors of Anok and crossed the Dark Water to the land of the Sandwen clans. First off, I have to say that Alvarez's world-building is exquisite. She has created a matriarchal culture, with warriors, tame Pegasi, dragons, giants, and now the herd of wild Pegasi which has arrived.
There is action aplenty, with fights, chases, and some super pegasus aerial derring do. I kid you not, I think this would be an excellent movie (so come on, Hollywood producers!)
I was moved by the relationship between young Rahkki and his older brother, Brauk--and the losses they have endured. The main point-of-view Pegasus character, Echofrost, has similar losses, and this really ties the narrative together. At the end of my reading, I was left yearning for more of this story (Jennifer Lynn Alvarez sets up some tantalizing story questions for a sequel). Oh, and did I mention there's also some great humor within the pages too? (Let's hear it for Lutegar, the swamp buffalo.)
In writing terms, Alvarez goes a great job of alternating the third person narrative between Echofrost and Rahkki's point of view. Also, she's a master of the chapter cliffhanger. Writers, she is definitely worthy of study.
About the Author: Jennifer Lynn Alvarez draws on her lifelong love of horses when writing her books. She lives in Northern California with her husband, children, and more than her fair share of pets. She's pictured here with her beloved mare, Maddie.
THE REVEAL OF THE WINNER OF THE RIDERS OF THE REALM BOOK TRAILER AND GIVEAWAY (drumroll, please)
(Taylor, please get in touch with me at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll get your information to Jennifer's publisher so you can receive a signed copy. Congratulations!!!)