*Review*: Redheart by Jackie Gamber {Book No. 1 of the Leland Dragon series} The novel which endeared me to Leland Province forevermore!

Posted Wednesday, 30 October, 2013 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Redheart by Jackie Gamber

[Book One: Leland Dragon series]

Redheart by Jackie Gamber
Artwork Credit: Matthew Perry

[Book Two: Sela]

Published By: Seventh Star Press, April 2011, second edition
Originally Published by: Meadowhawk Press, 2008, first edition [closed]
Official Author Websites: Gamber on Twitter; Personal Site;
Author Page: @ Seventh Star Press
Leland Dragons Official Website
Artist Page: Matthew Perry @ Seventh Star Press; Portfolio
Available Formats: Softcover and E-Book
Page Count: 275

{ converse via: #LelandDragons, #7thStar & #dragonfiction }

Acquired Book By: I am a regular blog book tour hostess for Tomorrow Comes Media, whereupon in conversation with Stephen Zimmer about my appreciation for epic fantasy, I was offered to receive a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press.The book released in April 2011. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Intrigued to Read: When I first decided to become a (blog) book tour hostess with Tomorrow Comes Media, I am not sure if I ever expected to have such a wicked sweet journey unfold in front of me! Inasfar to say, the authors who I am coming in contact with are writers who create lush, living, and dynamically engrossing worlds that make you think about the content that your reading as much as to jettison your wings off into new directions of literary exploration! I am not sure if I ever mentioned to my friends’ how much I have always kept a keen interest in ‘dragons’, as mind you, I was one of the eager movie goers who could not wait for the release of “How to Train Your Dragon”!! Whilst I was growing up my two favourite dragons were in the motion pictures: “Pete’s Dragon” and “The Neverending Story”, of which I saw in such repetition I could nearly recite the dialogue and describe the scene sequences! In later years, “Avatar” held my heart!

I have oft dreamt of the day to simply carve out space to soak into popular dragon literature, as much as seek out new authors that might not always be mentioned by other readers! How thankful I am, then, that this particular book was offered to me to read and review!

About the Author | Jackie Gamber

Jackie Gamber

You can read Gamber’s Full Biography, on her website, however, I learnt quite a few things about her whilst I was composing my questions for an interview! For instance, the essence of what she knew of dragons that originated from a dream she had that was the impetus to create “Redheart” shattered the misconceptions and perceptions of dragons, thus known in fantasy! She has a wicked sense for knowing which teas pair nicely with the books your palette is whet to taste! She took up knitting for its meditative qualities. If music is in the background whilst she writes, it has to be instinctively nondescript and ambient in nature, as if she hears a curious lyrical line it could shift her scene whilst its being penned!  She is a retired servicewoman, secretary, and beloved Mum! She finds a keen balance between her writing and her family life. She adores the zoo beyond what words can express. She is a prolific short story writer. She runs a multi-verse platform for story-telling entitled: Allotrope Media, alongside her husband. Believing that a story has the freedom to express itself through multiple mediums. Insofar as being an accomplished playright and screenwriter! She excels at genre jumping but her heart is attached to science fiction, fantasy, and horror.


Dragons & Humans | akin to friendship:

I would nearly suspect that if I were to live in another realm, I would pick one with dragons who appreciate a living space where dragons and humans live harmoniously together! Who would want to bypass this beautiful interaction!? I oft think that inter-species communication and connection for me, goes back to my teen years whilst I was researching oceanography and marine biology for a novel I was writing. For me, singling out the interplay between whales, dolphins, and humans held fast and firm to the presumption that interactions between different species can yield insight that is limited without the connection formed at all! (An excellent film about dolphins and dogs interacting is “Zeus and Roxanne”!) In this way, I have always held a soft spot in my heart for reading and/or listening to stories of the animals who have learnt to communicate with us directly as much as the stories of inter-species communications I have uncovered from rather unique pairings of animals!

The natural world breathes its mirth of knowledge in gentle and slow breaths of enlightenment, which you can observe the more you’re spending time outside, keeping still, and reverently attune to what is being spoken around you! Gentle whispers of truth floating in the short bursts of wind, the kissings of the sun, the sway of the trees, and the noddings of clouds, as you walk into the depths of the natural environment; your perception of what is there is heightened by your presence being accepted by those who call the habitat your walking through: home.

Dragons to me, always felt to encompass human-like characteristics that gave you the impression that if any species could live in an accord with us, it would be the dragons! They are generally emotionally driven, feel things deeply with their hearts, and they have keen observation and hearing skills that make them in a position to have empathy and tolerance. I always had the sense inside me that a dragon is as curious in nature as humans, and oft-times could get themselves into a bit of trouble untoward that regard!

In Redheart, she opens the door for a dragon to be incapacitated to care as he’s shut off his emotional heart, and would rather wallow in his self-pity than to admit that he still has something he can give and achieve, if he only gave himself half a chance! She writes his character flaws well, giving light to his physical discomfort as much as his reflective mannerisms that paint the picture clearly as how you would expect to find him if you stumbled across his cave! His anguish for his deceased parents is soul-wrenching because you can tell he has not yet traversed through his grief and emerged on the other side. He grieves as though they had only just died and his blinded sight of this sorrow is part of what is holding him back. Kallon gives the adjective ‘downtrodden’ a whole new meaning, as you can nearly see his disheartened sighs as he shifts into the floor of his cave and kicks up dust as he snorts, whilst entering his domain!

I think originally when the worlds of the dragons and humans were more intermixed, the relationships and friendships they built together was easier going than it is at the time we enter the life of Kallon and Riza. Fear has changed the landscape, and greed has nearly shattered the natural environment. Yet. Dragons and humans are akin to friendship because it’s part of the wiring of who they are. They are community entities that thrive best whilst surrounded by others’ rather than isolated as recluses. With friendship, each day is a bit more special than the last, because there was someone there to share the experience, the adventure, and the conversation of simply ‘being in the moment’ as it came to pass!

Wordsmiths are my favourites next to research enthusiasts:

Ms. Gamber has a way of weaving the opening bits of this tale in such a way that your hungry for each new sentence that alights in your mind! She has a way of showing the interactions between a freaked out of her skull human and a disgruntled and reclusive dragon as though this were an ordinary tale, set in an ordinary time, and one that would easily be taken as ‘written’ and ‘true’. Her ease of giving the reader the chance to soak into her narrative is brilliant when you consider this is an epic fantasy, with a world created fully unknown to the reader who picks up the book!

Next to (writers who are) research enthusiasts, my next favourite writer is the wordsmith! The one who uses a palette of words to paint the portraits of what evolves into the stories that light up our imaginations with such a vigorous intensity! They use words in a fashion that infuses emotion, heart, and observation in a way that is both poetic and brilliantly unique. And, being emotional beings (dragons), I would wager could lead to disappointments, misunderstandings, and grievously difficult emotional keels! She eclipses the depth of their personality with deft skill! Soulful! Dragons to me, have always come across as being ‘soulful’, filt to the brim with an ageless wisdom and a mission to seek out understanding in things that they do not always understand at first.

Trust, Determination, and Faith:

Three of the most difficult lessons we all face during our lifetimes is trusting what is happening will eventually turn around and become resolved. Staying determined that what ever befalls us will not define who we are or what we are capable of achieving. And, having the faith to encourage the strength needed in order to carry onward when our paths are not readily known or easily seen. I find these attributes at play in Kallon and Riza, who independently have to come to grips with the fact that their lives are taking a few left turns. Each of them are reluctant to admit that they are hesitate when it comes to trusting others, and each other for that matter! Slowly, as they start to spend time in each others’ company, they realise what they are missing by staying solo and isolated from companionship.

Review of Redheart:

What I feel Redheart is truly about is that a single act of courage and sacrifice is what can separate you from a crowd of maddening prejudice. It can also be the spark of the last true gift a father can bestow to his son at the time of his death. The true miracle is not allowing yourself to turn cold-hearted, to where you can no longer see what your heart is hoping you can! Our eyes are only one vehicle of sight, and if we are blinded in our hearts, we experience true blindness by not being able to see what is right in front of us. We’re surrounded by little bits of fragmented knowledge that speaks to us in the ripples of life that bursts and simmers wherever we walk. It’s knowing how to acknowledge where our lifepath is leading us to venture is the true source of understanding the greater whole of our life.

In the opening sequences of the story, the startled out of her wits human presents a classic encounter where the principal character is plucked out of her environment, taken into a new place, and has to sort out how to live where she’s planted! The fact that her rescuer is a reclusive dragon, makes the story ever more endearing, because oft-times you only hear of bold, confident dragons who are never absent of courage, or you encounter the battle-torn dragons who fight more than they alight in joy. Riza has to yield to trusting strangers in order to effectively change her stars and walk forward into a future of her choosing rather than the one that is expected.

Whilst reading the back-story of the dragons, I started to notice the similarities with their ancestral past and those of Native Americans. I grew up surrounded by Native American culture, art, and tradition as my parents always encouraged me to learn about cultures different from my own at a young age. Some of my fondest memories are the conversations I had with a Cherokee gentleman who owned a lovely art gallery and bookshoppe! Through his conversations, I have always been endeared to their cultural heritage, and as I read about Kallon’s dragon legacies of the ages, I started to recognise the underpinnings of cross-references.

An effective insurrection of power is happening in the background of Redheart, as you are introduced to such a garish brute as Blackclaw! His entire being is consumed with a thirst for blood, power, and control – to where he cannot think of anything else except the execution of engaging Dragonkind into a war with the humans! He is the complete opposite of leaders, who previously were vowed to encourage peace and civility with the humans. There is a sideline mystery about the causes of the environmental destructive patterns that are encroaching on the lands of each societies, which gives root to where the distention might have originally began.

Gamber weaves spirituality into her story with subtlety, as she begs the reader to consider the wider view of the story as a whole. To look inside our own hearts and minds, to reach past what we were expecting of the story and to see what she was trying to impart as the message that she has given us all to bear witness to. Living through faith and by faith alone is not an easy task, nor is seeing without the aide of our senses. Friendship is akin to love, and love is akin to friendship, thus so is faith akin to trust without sight.

Gamber has written a hypnotic tale that lulls you into a dreamy state of ethereal bliss, as you enter into the world of the Leland Dragons! It’s a story that you do not want to rush through, as you wander around slowly, taking in each scene and each piece of the world she’s created for the reader to become wholly enthused inside.

A Dragon Hunter with a curious complex of character!

When Jastin Armitage first comes onto the scene in Redheart, I am inwardly suspicious of his motives and of his leanings for dragon | human interactions. I gathered the sense that he was on the ‘opposite’ side of the spectrum from where I stood myself, and it came as no surprise whilst I learnt the hard truth that he ‘hunts dragons’ for a living! That aside, I found it rather curious when Gamber didn’t create the stereotypical ‘hunter’ character, but rather, gave him a bit of a working up as a man who is in conflict and attempting to be a better man than he might endeavour to represent! His gruff attitude towards Riza softened when he saw her up close, and it led me to believe that there is more to his heart than his persona as a rough-and-ready take no prisoners dragon hunter! I smirked and suppressed a giggle when I came across the scene in the The Brown Barrell where he rather cheekily gained information about the dragons he was seeking! I like cheeky humour in epic fantasy, because it helps keep the pace in-between the serious events a happy calm! He is definitely a character you are eager to read more about, with an arched eyebrow and a furrowing crease of your forehead whilst you realise he’s just this side of dangerous!

And, the story continues,…

I am in full gratitude that this is only! the first installment of the Leland Dragon series, as not since Kate Elliott’s “Crown of Stars” series and the aforementioned “Ave” series by Stephen Zimmer, have I settled into such a wonderfully wicked epic fantasy world! All these years I’ve been seeking where I should go next as far as which series to attempt to sink into and which world of whose characters would charm me with their endearing personalities,… It’s not a lightning bolt on anyone’s desk to realise that I adore full-bodied and fully realised worlds to etch myself into and soak straight into the context of the stories that draw me into their realms! The Leland Dragon series thankfully has a second installment already available, and I am hopeful, the third is shortly going to be released as it’s one of those series you are not inclined to want to put down for very long! I found a rumoured note that Book Three delves into Murk Forest whereupon dragon hunter Jastin Armitage becomes the hunted! I say ‘rumoured’ as I cannot find any mentionings online for when Book Three will drop, but I did come across the news that it marks the final installment, making Leland Dragons a trilogy! I can only hope once I reach that part of the story, I am ready to say “Good-bye”. For this story is a powerful one, that encourages you to move your fingers gingerly page to page, daring not to know what is revealed next, and yet, willing you to read where the story is leading  you to go!

All I can say, is that I hope there is more ‘flying amongst the clouds and over the trees’, as being free to explore the land and sky in this way I think is every dreamers ultimate wish! Rock on, Ms. Gamber for giving me such a wicked sense of pure joy and sense of adventure by capturing how it would feel to be ‘in flight’ without the security of being in a plane! I would fathom that being astride a dragon is similar to that of a horse, as there is a co-companionship that emerges that turns the journey into a conjoined experience.

“Redheart” by Jackie Gamber Book Trailer by Seventh Star Press

Be sure to catch the second half of this showcase on JLAS:
Jorie interviews Jackie Gamber, author of the Leland Dragon series!

This review was made possible by Seventh Star Press! They have my full gratitude!

Seventh Star Press

IF your a reader of dragon lore and fiction, which books and series stand out in your mind as the next ‘best’ read for me to engage in!? I’ll compile a list, and when I go to sit down with more books of this nature, I will pull your suggestions together and see how many I can read! I do have copies of “Eragon” & “Brisinger” on my self as much as I am curious about: the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, the Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb, Pern by Anne MacCaffrey, and the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, of which I have stumbled across thus far! IF you’ve read any of these, which were your favourites!? And, what warmed you to the story of Redheart, as I reviewed the story!?
Cross-listed on: Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays via On Starships & Dragonwings
{ converse via: #LelandDragons, #7thStar & #dragonfiction }

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Redheart” by Matthew Perry and Jackie Gamber’s photograph were all provided by Tomorrow Comes Media and used with permission. Seventh Star Press logo badge provided by Seventh Star Press and used with permission. The book trailer by Seventh Star Press had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. Blog tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

Related Articles:

Dragons in Literature – (en.wikipedia.org)

Jackie Gamber Tea Pairings with Books via English Tea Shop Blog – (englishtea.us)

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 30 October, 2013 by jorielov in Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Novel, Dragon Fiction, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Romance, Folklore and Mythology, High Fantasy, Indie Author, Young Adult Fiction

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