Kindle Edition, 278 pages
Published February 19th, 2014 by Smashwords
When I started this book, I was definitely not convinced. It reminded me of a story assignment for middle school I could’ve written myself when I was 11. However, if you’ve seen the number of brownies I gave it, you’ll already know this turned out to be something far from that. Yay!
“Prince Ethyrin is the last true heir to the throne of Arandia. Orphaned as a small child, he has been raised in the court of his uncle, the tyrant and usurper King Artan. Now fourteen, he is still childish, but also brave and noble, and Artan has decided that his nephew must never grow to manhood.
Barely escaping his uncle’s assassins, Ethyrin is forced to flee in exile to Calimshaan, the fabled City of Delights of the Jeddein. There he meets Nuara, a slave taken by the Jeddein and kept as a treasure in the household of one of their lords. She is also brave and strong, but is withering in her captivity. The only dream she has left is to escape and go home, or else to die trying.
Awestruck by her courage, and also needing some place to run to himself, Ethyrin decides to join Nuara in her quest. Together they must escape from Calimshaan and face the long journey to her homeland. To reach it they must cross the vast desert of the south and the wide, empty lands beyond it, where Nuara was taken years before. On their way, they will face slavers and strange spirits and the wraiths of a dead civilization. By helping one another, they may reach their destination. But while Nuara’s home lies at the end of their road, Ethyrin will need all of his bravery and a nobility that has nothing to do with his title to make a new home for himself.”
I believe it was around 20% in the book when things started to get better and better. Seriously, the author was on a roll! Normally, when a fantasy novel contains a quest and encounters different scenarios on the way to the end goal, I tend to get a bit frustrated because that type of story has been told numerous times by now. I like a fresh approach to things. This story is all about a quest. And encounters different scenarios on the way to the end goal…but…I fucking loved it! The encounters felt fresh and exciting. They weren’t drawn out too much but neatly told, and then moving on to the next one in a nice pace.
The world building is great. It made me want to sit around a campfire with Louis Piechota telling stories all the time; the guy’s a true storyteller! I don’t know if he has any kids, but if he does or plans on having them some day, they’re going to be lucky little creatures for sure with a dad who can fabricate such captivating stories.
A big part of A Rose in the Desert takes place in, d’oh, the desert. The Jeddein and their land are like the Arabs from 1001 nights. The wealth, the rustling of silk, the camels, the scorching heat; it’s all in here. Then, just when you start to think that the rest of the story will only be taking place under the hot sun or cold moon, the main characters, Ethyrin and Nuara, enter a different kind of landscape/scenery. There are rocky cliffs, grassy plains, and silent forests filled with little springs and pine trees.
As some of you already know, I used to be a big fan of World of Warcraft. One of the reasons for this was that the quests in the game would take you from one scenery to the next. I haven’t been playing for years now, but this book brought back some fond memories of the game and its environments.
The characters are great. While in the first 15%, I was still afraid they’d turn out to be quite standard and stereotypical, in the end, they didn’t. The only points of criticism I have for both Ethyrin and Nuara is that A. they cry an awful lot, and B. they stutter an even more awful lot:
They start their sentences with “I…I” so often that I started wondering if this wasn’t a Mexican soap opera instead.
Fantasy has been my favourite genre for a long time, but since last year, I became so fed up with the standard elves’ and gnomes’ characters, that I just can’t enjoy it as much anymore as I did before. A note I made at one point in this book: “Elves…wai u do dis 2 me?!” (typing on a Kindle doesn’t go along with great grammar). So just when I thought I could put on my grumpy cat face again, it turned out these were different kinds of elves: desert nomad elves! If anyone has ever encountered these before, please tell me about it in the comments. It was new to me, and therefore, awesome?
One of my favourite characters was Hadan (not an elf, though).
“For one alone, boy or girl, it would be certain death. For two it is also certain death, though maybe less certain.”
A great fighter for justice and a genius with words as you can see here.
I only made two notes during the entire book because it really wasn’t necessary to go off on a rant or anything. I just kept on reading and reading instead. The second note (apart from the elves’ one) I made, though, was about something so simple, yet so important in making the reader flow easily from one sentence to the other: “For the love of God, add some commas!!“. It’s not like there aren’t any commas at all (as you can obviously see in Hadan’s line up here), it’s just that there are none in places where they really should be.
“Two days before it would have infuriated him to been excluded thus, like a small child, and not a prince.“
I had to read this one three times or so to be able to understand what was being said.
As far as I know, this book is not part of a series. It has a clean, rounded up ending, which I could appreciate so much. If the author wanted to, he could easily pick up where he left off in the story, but he doesn’t need to, which is great! That being said, I would still be very interested to read more about Ethyrin’s destiny. Which actually says a lot because I can be quite the grumpy pants when it comes to turning everything into a series these days. A Rose in the Desert gets 4 brownies from me, based on my level of enjoyment. Highly recommended for everyone who likes some good storytelling and/or high fantasy. It’s mostly a great children’s book, though; I would’ve sucked this up when I was 12.
Edit 23/3: There will be a sequel! Squeeeee!
A big thank you to Louis Piechota for providing me with a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review!
Links to the book:
~About the Author~
Louis Piechota grew up in Colorado but now lives in upstate New York. He currently pays the bills by working as a mechanical engineer, but his dream has always been to become a professional author. His main interest is fantasy, but he’s also got a few ideas for science fiction stories that haven’t made it onto the page yet. Basically anything that he can’t find in the real world is what interests him most in both writing and reading.
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