The Raksura Return

Stories of the RaksuraStories of the Raksura, Volume 1
Martha Wells
Night Shade Books
trade paper, $15.99
ebook Kindle $9.99 Nook $7.49

Have you ever had one of those books that took you forever to read?  Not because the book isn’t interesting, but every single time you try to read it, you can’t get more than a few pages further along before something interrupts you.

That was my experience with this book.  It seemed the Fates were conspiring to thwart me every time I picked the book up.  But I persevered.

And I can say it was nice to revisit this world.  I would also like to thank Lauren Burstein of Night Shade Books for the review copy.  There are two novellas and two short stories here plus a couple of appendices.  Here’s what you get.

“The Falling World” is the longest entry in the book.  In this one, Jade leads a trading delegation to a nearby court to negotiate a trade agreement while Moon stays behind.  About the time Jade and her companions should be returning, a delegation arrives from that court wanting to discuss terms.  It seems Jade and her companions never got there.  Now Moon and Stone, the line-grandfather of Indigo Cloud Court, set off with a search party.

I really liked the setup in this one, especially once Moon’s party finds the trap that Jade and the others have fallen into.  It’s inventive and original.  The story takes place after the novels, and in my opinion is the least accessible of the stories to any reader who hasn’t read the novels.  There are references to events in the first two novels and what I think are references to the third, which I’ve not read yet.  They won’t keep you from enjoying the story, but they may be puzzling at times.

However, these references pretty much disappear once Moon and his party set out in search of Jade and her party.  That’s where things get really interesting.  Moon and his companions have a deadly puzzle to solve, one that’s smart and clever.

“The Tale of Indigo and Cloud” goes back a few generations.  It’s the story of how Indigo Cloud Court got its name.  A young daughter queen, Indigo, steals a consort (Cloud) while on a visit to Emerald Twilight Court.  The fact that Cloud was a willing participant doesn’t help.  This sets off a diplomatic crisis which could quickly lead to war.  Cerise, the reigning queen, will have to use all her skill to prevent bloodshed.  This one is a stand-alone that can be enjoyed with no knowledge of the other installments in this series.

I’ve discussed “The Forest Boy” elsewhere, so I won’t repeat myself.   It’s a prequel to The Cloud Roads, but you needn’t have read that book to enjoy the story.

The final story (“Adaptation”) is pretty short.  It’s the tale of Chime’s transformation from mentor to warrior.  If you read the “The Falling World”, you’ll have all the background you need to follow it.

Overall, this is a solid collection.  It fills in some places in the overall storyline that don’t require novel length works.  “The Falling World” hints that there could be consequences of the events in that tale.  The only negative is that in places  Stories of the Raksura is more geared for current fans of the series rather those coming to it for the first time.  However, it’s not entirely inaccessible to the new reader and is definitely worth checking out.  We get to see a variety of situations here which in many ways help flesh out the world.

As you can probably guess from the Volume 1 in the title, there’s going to be a Volume 2.  It’s due out next spring, and I’m looking forward to it.


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