Friday, October 12, 2012

The Unfinished Song (series) by Tara Maya

I discovered some time ago Tara Maya as a commenter on one of  J.A.Konrath blog posts.
I was at that time discovering self-publishing, and "Initiate" --the first in her "The Unfinished Song" series-- was one of the books that convinced me of Self-Publishing worth.

As you know if you follow my blog, I read mostly SF&F books, and let me say that "Initiate" (and its follow-ups) came as some fresh air in my reading world. I didn't know "Tribal Fantasy" could exist, and there it was.

As is my custom, I'll stay clear of the events in the series, especially since I'm reviewing  it all, but I will try and point out what I like about it and what I think are its shortcomings...

The point of view shifts between a set of people from distinct tribes, including and orbiting around Dindi, a young girl and dancer, and following her "coming of age". Yes, I know, "coming of age" stories abound, and this one could be lumped with the others, but the setting changes it all.

"Primal" here is the word, in a harsh world where people are organised in clans and tribes, big enough to do more than subsist, but not enough to let antagonists stay clear of each other. Civilization is there already, but still diverse as a mix of vaguely interlocked tribal civilizations, giving at each new encounter a new view of a multifaceted crystal.

If the society model where the only change from classical Fantasy, it would already be quite refreshing, but Tara Maya didn't stop there. Much more profound, and impregnating the story and characters, is magic. It's wild and primitive, savage, seductive as big cats, but as dangerous too. The whole plot turns around it, and has it express in every rainbow color, but not limited to it, with black and white doing their own complementary appearance.

Really refreshing, really intriguing and powerful story, with people we love to love and others we love to hate, but not missing any of the "in-betweens" either.

But unfortunately there are also some shortcomings.

First, and its only a matter of personal taste, it's riding straight along my personal "grittiness" edge. Not yet gritty enough to really bother me, but almost there.

Secondly, the series is in fact one long story arc, cut in a series of books, each one a little bit too "clear-cut", lacking some re-exposition at the start and closure at the end. And while cliff-hangers can be fun, there can be some time from episode's availability to the next, leaving you anxiously awaiting for the follow-up while letting fade memory of the previous one.

It also needs be told that as of today, only 5 of the planned 9 books are out, but Tara is working on keeping pumping them out.

Wing : Book Five, released on October the 12th

Shortcomings, yes, but not enough to have me dismiss the series, and still leaving it with Four full stars on my personal star-o-meter.

If you want to check it out, "Initiate" (Book One of the series) is free.

Edit : Forgot to say (full disclosure) that I received at least part of the series for Free from Tara Maya, following-up on her offers on her blog.

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