Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring

The Grass King's Concubine is a descriptive fantasy following the journey of wealthy Aude Pelerin des Puiz as she struggles to understand why some people in her nation are rich while others are poor.  As a young woman, she takes to wandering the streets of the dirty, dangerous Brass City, where she encounters and falls in love with Jehan Favre, a soldier who likewise questions the wealth inequities of their nation.  Together, they travel to the original lands of Aude's family in order to discover the origins of her family's wealth.  When Aude is kidnapped and taken by the Grass King's protectors, the Cadre, to the realm in the WorldBelow, Jehan must journey to save her while Aude fights to learn the reason for her captivity, and she must find a way to save her own life.

Although a slow plot makes the story difficult to enjoy in the beginning, the story quickly picks up pace and becomes an exciting read.  Its Indian-like atmosphere and exquisitely detailed land create an unusual and enthralling world that traps the reader - especially when the puzzling palace of the Grass King is introduced.  Each character: human, superhuman, and ferret alike are presented as uniquely flawed individuals, adding to the story's overall conviction.  Even the twin shapeshifters, whose friends and enemies struggle to tell apart, are each shown to posses their own personalities by which the reader can distinguish them.  The Cadre and their powers are especially captivating - for each defines himself by his power, yet uses it for a different reason than his fellows.  The story itself is told through the eyes of four characters: Aude, Jehan, and the twin ferrets.  Though the author's choice to switch between personages every chapter does foster suspense, it also creates easy confusion.  However, the description of both characters and setting is fantastic, and the overall story is fascinating.  Although the book takes time and concentration to read, I would recommend it to any fantasy-lover.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: Middlebury, CT USA