Book Review: Through Kestrel’s Eyes

Kestrel

Through Kestrel’s Eyes © 2013 Yvonne Hertzberger

Through Kestrel’s Eyes is the second book of the Earth’s Pendulum Series by Yvonne Hertzberger. I reviewed the first book, Back from Chaos back in August. All the major characters are back, except in this book, the story is a first-person narrative as told by Klast and Bresna’s daughter, a seer named Liannis.

Liannis is a young woman, newly come into her responsibilities. Chief among her abilities include the gift of foresight, usually given to her in a series of dreams from Mother Earth, and the ability to truth-tell, which she uses if a prisoner needs to be interrogated, of if someone’s loyalty is called into question.

The seer works for Earth, a goddess personified, who uses Liannis as an intermediary to maintain balance. Earth’s ability to provide for her inhabitants is strained by man’s refusal to live in harmony with one another. War, and man’s desire to subjugate a defensless populace, causes Earth to suffer, which in turn leads to drought and famine.

The book is roughly a two year span, between Liannis’ taking up the mantle of seer from her mentor, and the trails Bargia, her home, faces with the neighboring demenses, (what we would think of as a kingdom.) Though she has pledged no allegiance to any lord, having grown up in Bargia, she works primarily with Lord Gaelen and his allies.

Trouble comes to Bargia on two fronts, first from Lieth, where a weak lord is disposed and a ruthless despot assumes power, abusing the populace for his own enjoyment. Then from Gharn, where the lord has also been deposed but Dugal, his heir, seeks to reclaim his birthright. Lord Gaelen must choose where to focus his attention, Bargia not strong enough to fight two separate battles, though both threaten not only Bargia’s safety, but Earth’s ability to provide.

Through the conflicts, drought plagues the lands, putting further hardships on the land, making achieving a lasting peace all the more important. Liannis works tirelessly, even putting not only herself in danger, but also her loved ones, all for the sake of Mother Earth. At risk is not only her home demense of Bargia and her allies, but the survival of all mankind.

First let me say that trying to summarize the book is almost an impossible task, as there’s so much going on, with a cast of characters that come together to create a rich and complicated story. At its heart is our seer, Liannis, aided by a young man Merriest, who had the misfortune of losing a leg in his first battle.

There’s also the added dynamic of the seer and her parents, her father Klast, Gaelen’s most trusted adviser and spy, and Bresna, Lady’s Marja’s best friend. Woven into is her familiarity with the ruling family, and her duty to remain impartial for the service of Earth.

The story is much more about about the necessary evils a country must fight in order to achieve a lasting peace. It’s about the suffering her people endure, and how dependent the population is to her leadership for their survival.

But for me, the crux of the book is the Liannis’ personal relationships, not only with family and friends, but all those she serves. There’s a depth of warmth that is at once real and moving. She cares, and through her made me care. She loves, and I came to love her and the rest of the characters as well. The added friction of a potential romantic attachment, one that she believes to be taboo, is familiar and should resonate with everyone.

Through Kestrel’s Eyes is a well-written novel, as is the rest of the series. It moved me to laughter and to tears. I loved it so much that I immediately read the third -though you have to wait for my review – and I immediately wrote the author to tell her how much I loved her books.

It should be no wonder that I should rate this book highly, 5 out of 5 stars. Even after reading it for a second time, I couldn’t contain my emotions, my eyes tearing up from Liannis trials, that I had to stop often to dry them. It isn’t to often that a book does that to me. I cannot recommend this book enough.


Yvonne Hertzberger
Back from Chaos

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Book Review: Back From Chaos

Happy Monday everyone! I know many of you have trudged off to begin another week of endless merriment. Meanwhile, I’m relaxing at home, enjoying a well-deserved day off. I’ll begin my week tomorrow.

Back From Chaos © 2011 Yvonne Hertzberger

Back From Chaos © 2011 Yvonne Hertzberger

I stayed up late last night, reading today’s novel, Back From Chaos by Yvonne Hertzberger. Back From Chaos is the first book of the Earth’s Pendulum series, which I believe is a solid foundation to begin with.

The book begins with Marja, daughter of Cataniast, lord of Catania, hiding in the castle. Bargia, a country which borders Catania invaded and managed to overthrow Cataniast. Marja only thought was of survival, but also gave thought to killing herself to save herself the terror of being captured and raped. As a member of the ruling family, she knew that tradition dictated that she be killed.

She had begun her escape when a soldier of the invading force opened the door and caught her in the act. He announced himself as Lord Gaelen of Bargia, and requested that she put down her knife, promising that no harm would come to her. In spite of the danger to herself and her people, something in his voice makes her relent. She is taken captive and held prisoner in her own room.

Lord Gaelen, finding himself the only surviving heir of his people, his father and elder brother both tragically killed in the invasion, decides to take an unorthodox approach. He presents Marja with a proposal, one that would guarantee her safety and her freedom, that she join him as his wife. Seeing the logic behind the proposal, she agrees.

Unbeknownest to the pair, the fate of their peoples, of Cataniast and Bargia is bound to their success. Indeed, it is Earth who through the seer Liethis, who demands an end to violence and a return to balance. In restoring balance, it is neither Lord Gaelen nor Lady Marja who are destined to be the main players, but rather Gaelen’s chief spy, Klast, and Marja’s lady in waiting, Bresna, who become the focus of Earth and her desire for balance.

Klast, whose childhood had enured him to hardships, hardening him against the advances of women and the company of men, whose ability to blend into the crowd and disappear, who had fortified himself against his own emotions, now must come to terms with his destiny.

It is through Bresna that he must decide his fate, and the fate of the mankind. It is though the act of saving her that he himself might save himself. His destiny is bound by oath to the house of Bragia, first to Gaelen’s father and then to Gaelen himself. Can he save both Cataniast and Bargia, as well as Bresna and himself.

What does Earth demand of him and why?

First let me start off by saying I cannot do this book justice by trying to summarize it in such a short amount of space. How can I categorize this? There seems to be many ways to do so. Fantasy to be sure, but there are elements of political intrigue, stories of love and romance. There are issues of rape, child abuse and hints of sexual abuse as well. There are graphic details of death and executions. This is not a feel good book.

That being said, it is a well-written book, one that captivates the reader. Once cannot help but root for Gaelen and Marja as they try to unite their homes against the attack of treason member of their inner circle. One is hard-pressed not to feel for Bresna as she suffers the indignation of being attacked and seeing Klast rescue her, and by doing so, seeing his defenses fall away in spite of himself.

Yvonne has written a book filled with many elements that together make up an elaborate tapestry, a story of pain to be sure, but out of that pain the birth of something greater. Out of it, there can be found a peace, all the more richer for the trials endured to earn it. But first the character’s must find a way to surrender themselves to their destiny, and find a way despite their reservations.

Once I began to read it, I was loathe to put it down, which I had to when my Kindle died. I picked it back up once my battery had recharged, eager to see where the trials would lead, and I was not disappointed. I was both surprised and pleased, primed to pick up the next installment of the series.

In short, I give this 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a great book with a riveting story line, characters rich in detail and subtleties. I cannot recommend Back From Chaos enough!


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