Publisher: Tracy Banghart
Publishing Date: February 2014
Publisher Description: War has come to Atalanta, infecting its quiet villages and lush woodlands, igniting whispered worries in its glittering capital. All across the dominion, young men are being Selected for Military and sent to the front lines…and eighteen-year-old Aris Haan’s childhood sweetheart is one of them.
Review: Although the cover-art is fairly inventive, it really has nothing to do with the novel. Fairly misleading in its entirety. There is even a silhouette of a world war II plane in one of the crystals? The novel evokes images of flying machines that are quite a bit sleeker and perhaps smaller in design and wouldn’t have exhaust contrails as they are solar powered. And why is there a bracelet on the cover? The title doesn’t do it for me either. Subjectively there is no draw for any reader to pick this up when you have bad cover art coupled with an ambiguous title. The author might have titled the novel, “The Diatous War, volume 1: The Ruslana Gambit” with better result.
Airhead…er…Aris, lives in Lux where she hopes to be promised to the love of her life, Calix. War has reared its ugly head and her Calix is selected to be a mender on the front lines. They both promise eternal love and a future together and off he goes. Aris loves to fly, and one day is mobbed by a military flyer, which she easily gets the better of. From there we get this quirky set of circumstances that leads up to her training to be a military flyer while in the guise of a man. Her impetus for doing so is to find her love, Calix. The “Veil” is holographic mapping hardware that changes your outward appearance. See, there are no women allowed in the military but a “secret agency” knows that there are highly qualified and capable women that could greatly aid in the war effort.
I really liked this novel, mainly due to the creative story-line. The author did a great job in developing Aris. She basically transforms Aris from a love-struck airhead into someone with purpose, conviction, loyalty and bravery. The author does not sacrifice Aris’ humanity and turn her into some kind of hard edged commando like so many author’s do these days. How many books have I read where the female character is either so “Speshul” (thanks Khanh) and can’t find her ass with both hands without some big hunky man to help her, or a killing machine without remorse whom has the morals of a grapefruit. Aris is a wonderfully conflicted character who maintains her sense of self while implementing her chosen way of life.
The parallel story of the Kidnapped Ward of Ruslana, Galena is lengthier than it needs to be, but worthwhile just the same. The author creates this tapestry of malaise whereby you get the sense that something is wrong, but are not quite sure of its origins. Some readers might question Aris’ overall intent, but I tack that up to her romanticized notion of life as a young girl. I don’t know that if I was in a war that I would be thinking or dreaming about some hottie officer while recovering from a plane crash. Those instances, while not real appropriate to the scenario, may have been a good opportunity for the author to develop Aris’ harder side.
I couldn’t put this one down. It was a really good read. I hope the author gets some better editing input into character development in some minor areas in order to realize their potential to the reader. Some of the dialogue renders the female military characters almost too susceptible/vulnerable in tight situations. I ‘am chomping at the bit to see where the author takes us next. Will she keep Aris or will it be someone else in another Ward, perhaps some spy that is sympathetic to Atalanta’s plight within Safara??