Jess E. Owen – A Shard of Sun

Shard is a gryfon entrusted with a great responsibility. A dragon of the Sunland has left her newborn kit to his care, and now Shard has difficult decisions to make about how best to keep the swiftly growing dragonet safe, while remaining true to his own destiny and the prophecy of the Summer King. He sets out to return the dragonet to his kin in the Sunland and find help for his own quest, but his hope for making wise and benevolent allies is quickly replaced with the reality of cold, mistrustful dragons who want nothing to do with gryfons, Shard, or his wars in warmer lands.

In the Silver Isles, the warrior gryfon Caj sets out on a dangerous hunt for his mad wingbrother, Sverin, once the mighty Red King. The safety of the pride, and in the end, Caj’s life, may depend on his success or failure.

Meanwhile, Shard’s wingbrother Kjorn seeks to find him and reconcile, and his quest will take him across the land that was once his birthright and into the heart of tricky alliances, enmities, and the ever-looming threat of the Voiceless, fear-mongering wyrms.

The Song of the Summer King promises that one will rise higher, one will see farther, and his wing beats will part the storm . . . but as Shard learns more of the world and the tangled threads of fate, he begins to fear that no one can part the storm of growing hatred and fear–not even a Summer King.

Published by Five Elements Press

This is the third book in the wonderful Summer King Chronicles already, a wonderful series written by Jess E. Owen, a rather successful author, showered with various awards, who chose to publish her books herself.

I’ll start off by saying that I absolutely love this book, and the characters in it. Even though it’s been a while since I read Song of the Summer King (book 1) and Skyfire (book 2), I had absolutely no trouble stepping back into the wonderful world created by Owen. I felt as welcome as a seasoned gryfon warrior coming home after a long journey.

And just look at the cover! I’m a bit ashamed to say that I actually DO judge a book by its cover. However, Jennifer Miller has absolutely outdone herself on this breathtaking piece of art, which made sure that the book was beautiful inside and out.

Back to the story. What I absolutely love about Owen’s way of writing, is the way she manages to make everything so incredibly dynamic. Not a single chapter in the book is boring in any way, and the story progresses nicely, even though the little cliffhangers were quite frustrating from time to time. I had to resist the urge to just skip ahead to some parts. I mainly had this problem with the scenes concerning Shard and the Sunland dragons. I was so enchanted by the dragon culture, that I simply couldn’t stop reading about them. I had to though, because Owen forced me to.

This third installment is a beautiful addition to the series, and I would even dare to say that this might even be my favourite part thus far. The reason for this has little to do with the overal story and how far we’ve progressed with it, but has everything to do with the sheer amount of absolutely fantastic scenes and moments in the book. Some of which I will highlight now, so BEWARE OF THE SPOILERS!

SPOILER ALERT!

I’ve told Owen before that she has a knack for creating very dynamic scenes with her writing, which became evident in the aerial battles in the first two novels. However, Owen has revealed a new talent in A Shard of Sun: the use of water as an obstacle or even an enemy.

There are multiple absolutely fantastic water scenes in this book, such as Caj and Halvden’s battle against the freezing river, Shard’s escape from his ice prison, and the most impressive one of all, and one of my two favourite scenes in the book: the battle against the orcas. This scene caused the book to swallow my conscious whole, in the same fashion that the Shard went down into the ocean, and it wouldn’t let go of me, much like the orcas. The way this scene was written was so intense, that I absolutely couldn’t stop reading. Once it was over, I sat back in my chair with a deep sigh and a silent “Oh, my god”.

My other favourite scene was the battle in the Ring of Sky. As a reader, you learn so much of the dragon culture by reading this chapter and following the battle between Shard and Kagu, that it was a very satisfying scene to read. Owen once again displays her talent for aerial combat, but does this in a whole new way. The dragon way.

END OF SPOILERS!

All in all, I absolutely loved this book, and it was exactly what I was expecting: fantastic. I can’t wait to see what wonderful things will happen in By the Silver Wind (book 4), which has not been released yet.

I would love to recommend the Summer King Chronicles to all lovers of the fantasy genre.

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Jess E. Owen – A Shard of Sun

Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy

A landmark of world literature, “The Divine Comedy” tells of the poet Dante’s travels through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise in search of salvation. Before he is redeemed by his love for the heavenly Beatrice, he learns the meaning of evil, sin, damnation and forgiveness through a series of unforgettable experiences and encounters in what is considered a pre-eminent work of Italian literature. This edition of “The Divine Comedy” features Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s renowned and 135 full-page reproductions of Gustave Dore’s classic engravings from the 1867 edition. “The Divine Comedy” is part of “Barnes & Noble”‘s series of quality leatherbound volumes. Each title in the series presents a classic work in an attractively designed edition bound in genuine bonded leather. These books make elegant additions to any home library.

Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Illustrated by Gustave Dore
Published by Barnes & Noble, Inc.

Dante’s Divine Comedy is perhaps one of the most important books ever written. This nearly 700-year-old story has been referenced by so many other books, films, games, etc. that there are almost no avid readers who haven’t at least heard of Dante’s Inferno.

Having come across the name so often in books, inspired me to get myself a copy of this book, the most beautiful one I could find of course, and read it.

I must say that it really feels like an achievement that I’ve been able to finish it, and that I didn’t just give up halfway. The book is written in an older version of English, and in a somewhat poetic way, which makes this an incredibly difficult book to read. There have been multiple pages that I’ve read, of which I still have no idea what they were actually about. There were also a lot of names in the book, that meant absolutely nothing to me. However, as a certain little blue fish once told me, I just kept swimming.

The part I enjoyed most was definitely the first part: Inferno, which is also the part that’s referenced most. It was quite interesting to read how Dante experienced Hell and the people in it. The different punishments and the reason for them were just so interesting that I blasted my way through Inferno in a short amount of time.

Purgatorio and Paradiso were absolutely boring to me, Purgatorio especially. There were just way too many discussions about all kinds of things that didn’t interest me, and which were written in such a way that I simply didn’t understand most of it. I knew the words, I knew the meanings of most words, but I simply didn’t know what the characters were talking about. This was very frustrating.

So yes, it feels like an achievement to have finished the book, but I simply didn’t enjoy it. At least it’ll ook pretty in my bookcase. I would like to end with saying: Abandon all hope, ye who picketh up this book!

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Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy