Monday, April 21, 2014

The Valley of Thorns: A 5-Star Review!

Back Cover, The Valley of Thorns
Feel free to print this!
       The prolific Marva Dasef (her Amazon Page) has now read and reviewed all three volumes (to date) of my series The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head.  She gave this one 5 stars, and she doesn't dole out that many stars regularly.  If you want to read something of hers, I recommend The Witches of Galdorheim (see my review of the first volume, Bad Spelling).
       I'm not too worried about the spoilers, because if you recognize the medieval epic on which I based this story (and I've talked about that elsewhere), you'll know the outcome anyway.
Now here is Marva's review of The Valley of Thorns:

       Given that I read and enjoyed the first two volumes of this epic series, I had no trepidations jumping into the third volume of the story of Ki'shto'ba and his doughty band of companions.
       Di'fa'kro'mi the Remembrancer (equivalent of a bard or story teller) having invented a written form of the termite language narrates the tale. In the first volume (the Battle for the Stolen Mother), we find Di'fa'kro'mi as an elderly person narrating the story to his scribe. Occasionally, Di'fa'kro'mi breaks out of the narrative to explain a few things to the scribe which were not directly observed by the Remembrancer. I liked these sections since the first person narrative would obviously not cover events where Di'fra'kro'mi was not present.
       In this volume, the companions travel to the Marcher lands where a war is on-going with another tribe of Shshi. The dispute is over religion, a common reason for war. Since Ki'shto'ba's twin, A'zhu'lo had become attached to the Marcher overlord, the Huge-Head reluctantly joins the Marcher side. Going into the Valley of the Thorns to aid a Marcher outpost, the war heats up. A truce is proposed, and the opposing Shshi even say they will switch their method of worship of the Great Mother in accordance with the Marcher beliefs. Unfortunately, it's a ruse with one of the Marcher generals becoming a turncoat.
       The subsequent battle when the traitor is discovered is bloody and vicious. Ki'shto'ba had been leading the way out of the Valley of the Thorns leaving its twin in the rear guard, which was totally destroyed.
       The death of his twin drives Ki'shto'ba mad and it ends up killing innocents in the heat of his insanity. This parallels the story of Hercules' madness and murders for which he must atone with the 12 labors. In the earlier volumes, Ki'shto'ba had already been set on the task of performing 12 wonders.
       I'm going on too long here and possibly introducing too many spoilers, so I'll end the description of the events (maybe I should be a Remembrancer myself).
       Again, I highly recommend this epic story. There are three volumes more according to Ms. Taylor. I will meet them head on and, hopefully, not be driven mad in the process of following the complex names, titles, objects, and places served to the reader in the Shshi language. By the end of the tale, I might very well have a working vocabulary of the marvelous con-lang (constructed language), Ms. Taylor has so carefully developed.
       Definitely start with volume 1 of the tale (you might also want to take on the Termite Queen first since Ki'shto'ba is first introduced in that series.
       Amazingly complex, yet solid storytelling. And, yes, I got misty-eyed at the death of A'zhu'lo. Is that a spoiler too?

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