Friday, March 1, 2013

First Read Friday: Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

     Title: Hawksong (The Kiesha'ra, #1)
     Author: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
     Publisher: Laurel Leaf
     Published: July 8, 2003
     Number of Pages: 243
     Genre(s): Fantasy, YA
     Date Read: February 15, 2013

A long, long time ago in a far away land lived many magical races of Shapeshifters, from birds, to snakes, to tigers and wolves these being could take the form of animals and of humans. This is the saga of the Kiesha'ra, the races of The Serpiente and the Avians who all descended from the ancient Kiesha. These two factions have long been divided, they have been at war for so many generations neither tribe can any longer be entirely certain of why they started fighting but they continue now out of retribution and because they know no other way. They are so diametrically opposed in their values and views that neither populace believes peace is even possible, their hatred is so entrenched.

But everything these two great tribes think they know is about to change when the young heiress to the title of Avian Tuuli Thea, Danica Shardae, a Hawk, ventures out onto the battle fields and holds the dying Gregory Cobriana, one of the sons of the ruling house of the Serpiente in her arms so that he will not die alone and will die knowing comfort, even though he had just murdered her brother Xander. That single act cements her desire to see peace between their two peoples, so that no Avian or Serpiente ever has to lose another loved one. She vows to do whatever it takes.

At the same time word gets back to the Diente of the Serpiente, Zane Cobriana, Gregory's older brother, about Danica's actions and he too is moved. Long having desired to see peace between the Avians and the Serpiente Zane has been formulating a plan for years and now he sees his moment to enact it. Arranging for the Hawk Royals to meet him at the encampent of the Tiger King for arbitration and negotiations he seeks out Danica in her bedroom and makes his proposal, literally, he proposes that they join their two houses and kingdoms by marrying one another. At first Danica is scandalised by the idea, but the more she thinks about it the more she agrees with Zane that it is the only way. So she agrees.

Can their relationship survive? Will the Avians accept a snake as their Tuuli Thea's alistair? Will the Serpiente accept a bird as their Naga? Is love really enough to overcome centuries of brutal, bloody war?

I still remember the first time I picked up a book by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, I picked up her very first book, In the Forests of the Night right around the time it came out I believe, because that was during my poet phase and I was really really into the William Blake poem she used as inspiration. If I remember correctly that may have been the book that was responsible for getting me interested in vampire's been so long I cannot recall with 100% accuracy. So yes, I am a long time Amelia Atwater-Rhodes fan, so I really can't believe it took me so long to actually read this particular set of books by her. I mean really, it's been out almost 9 years. That being said I'm really glad I finally got around to it. HawkSong is really interesting.

In the early books of her main series, The Den of Shadows she alludes to the Shapeshifters very briefly, like with Jaguar in Midnight Predator. Hawksong and it's four sequels are a companion series to The Den of Shadows giving more history and background on three of the tribes of Shapeshifters. 

While the Hawks and the Serpiente in this book are interesting I am disappointed that she didn't choose to expand on some of the tribes that she'd already mentioned in The Den of Shadows. I'd love to know more about the tribe that Jaguar descended from, and I know the Tigers actually got mentioned in this series before they got mentioned in Den but they were in Hawksong so very briefly that we learned next to nothing about them, certainly nothing that comes close to hinting about what we learn about them in Poison Tree.

Aside from the intricacies of the cultures, the story line of Hawksong really isn't complex at all, and I feel like it's been done to death. Two races at war, the children of the ruling houses decide to join the two kingdoms by marrying, tentative peace is achieved, and then you're left with a cliffhanger about whether or not it could really last. It's a tired plot line and the reader knows how it's going to end, but I still think the journey in this case is fun, if only because of the cultures of the tribes as a whole. This novel is from Danica's POV so we're locked into her Hawk sensibilities as she tries to understand and immerse herself in the Serpiente culture. I like the fish out of water angle of it and I like that Danica, by the end of the book, really, really is trying to open her heart and mind as much as possible to the Serpiente people.

What do you think, can you enjoy a book that has a plot line that's been played out to the point of becoming predictable?


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