+Book Review+ Sela by Jackie Gamber {Book No. 2 of the Leland Dragon series} A dragon series etched on my heart.

Posted Friday, 7 March, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Sela | Book 2 Leland Dragons by Jackie Gamber
Artwork Credit: Matthew Perry

Published By: Seventh Star Press, 27 March, 2012
Official Author Websites: Twitter 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: 308

Genre(s): Fiction | Young Adult Fantasy |

| Dragon Fiction | High Fantasy |

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

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Acquired Book By: Whilst signing up to participate in the much-anticipated blog tour for “Reclamation” the third book in the Leland Dragon series, through Tomorrow Comes Media;  I requested receiving “Sela” in order to read the series in sequence.  I received a complimentary copy of this book direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press, without obligation to post a review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read: Ever since I left the world of Redheart, I have ached to return to the Leland Province and resume the story where I had left off at the conclusion of the first installment of a trilogy still in the making. It’s the type of story whose world-building scope pulls you into its heart and allows time to dissolve behind you and away from you. You long to know more about the characters, both good and bad you’ve become acquainted with due to the journey you’ve taken with them throughout Redheart‘s debut! I knew it would be possible to read Reclamation without Sela, but a part of me felt it was crucial not to break the continuity of this particular dragon fiction series as it might in effect change my perception and interaction with the characters within the bookend conclusion! I am thankful that I was given a chance to resume through Sela before arriving at the series finale and conclusion!

I had hoped to re-read Redheart, prior to reading both Sela & Reclamation, however, a severe cold and pollen allergy compounded my misery to where I could not pick up any books nor read even one chapter of these dear books until the very week I had re-scheduled my review for the Reclamation Tour! Therefore, in order to help my mind and heart re-adjust back into the rhythm Gamber created, I backtracked to Chapter Forty-Nine in Redheart before proceeding!

About the Author | Jackie Gamber

Jackie Gamber

As an award winning author, Jackie writes stories ranging from ultra-short to novel-length, varieties of which have appeared in anthologies such as Tales of Fantasy and Dragons Composed, as well as numerous periodical publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, The Binnacle, Mindflights Magazine, Necrotic Tissue, and Shroud. She is the author of the fantasy novel Redheart and Sela, and writing an alternate history time travel novel. She blogs professionally for English Tea Store.com, where she reviews classic science fiction and fantasy novels and pairs them with the ideal tea-sipping companion.

Jackie is a member of the professional organizations Science Fiction Writers of America and Horror Writers Association. She was named honorable mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, and received a 2008 Darrell Award for best short story by a Mid-South author. She is the winner of the 2009 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction for her story The Freak Museum, a post-apocalyptic tale that looks closely at perceptions and outward appearances and how they affect the way we see ourselves. Jackie Gamber was co-founder and Executive Editor of Meadowhawk Press, a speculative fiction publisher based in Memphis. One of their novels, Terminal Mind by David Walton, won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award in 2009. Jackie also edited the award-winning benefit anthology, Touched By Wonder. She has been a guest lecturer at Memphis Options High Schools, and is a speaker at writers’ conferences from Michigan to Florida. Jackie is also the visionary behind the MidSouthCon Writers’ Conference, helping writers connect since 2008.

Book Synopsis:

Peace was fleeting. Vorham Riddess, Venur of Esra Province, covets the crystal ore buried deep in Leland’s mountains. His latest device to obtain it: land by marriage to a Leland maiden. But that’s not all.

Among Dragonkind, old threats haunt Mount Gore, and shadows loom in the thoughts of the Red who restored life to land and love. A dragon hunter, scarred from countless battles, discovers he can yet suffer more wounds.

In the midst of it all, Sela Redheart is lost, driven from her home with only her old uncle to watch over her. As the dragon-born child of Kallon, the leader of Leland’s Dragon Council, she is trapped in human form with no understanding of how she transformed, or how to turn back.

Wanderers seek a home, schemes begin to unfurl, and all is at risk as magic and murder, marriage and mystery strangle the heart of Esra. A struggle for power far older and deeper than anyone realizes will leave no human or dragon unaffected.

In a world where magic is born of feeling, where the love between a girl and a dragon was once transformative, what power dwells in the heart of young Sela?

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Sela: Dragon or Human?
Reclamation | Book 3 Leland Dragons by Jackie Gamber
Sela being lifted by her father Kallon Redheart; whilst Drell hides below in the forest hidden from view
Artwork Credit: Matthew Perry

I must confess the cover-art for Sela did originally have me questioning the merits of Riza and Kallon’s daughter being either dragon OR human as the image eludes to a possible paradox between the two versions. As I entered this chapter of the Leland Dragons series, I was happily confronted with a character that had me twitching with excitement, as Sela is as much as a spitfire as her mother as she is a determined spirit like her father! She is the perfect blend of her parents passions and abilities. Seeing Orman Thistleby step in as her guardian Uncle was a pure delight as well! Sela’s struggle for understanding her identity and the manner in which her body changed brought me back to her mother’s journey, where nothing was quite as it seemed but everything was aligning in the way it was meant to be. The hardest struggles in anyone’s life is the acceptance of the circumstances that we cannot readily understand or see how those moments can help define who we are meant to become.

Each time I read a passage where Sela was attempting to sort out her ‘humanness’ reminded me fondly of other fantastical stories where a character wanted either to be more human or less, depending on their point of view of human behaviour and action. Seeing her sketched out as an artist felt fitting because it would make sense that the daughter Redheart would see the world through artistic eyes. She would be given the gift of seeing the beauty in everything rather than being caught in the fear of living in the moment of uncertainty.

My Review of Sela:
Reclamation | Book 3 Leland Dragons by Jackie Gamber
Sela flees the raging storm of the Rage Desert; having been brought there to perish for a crime she didn’t commit
Artwork Credit: Matthew Perry

Time has passed a bit quicker than I had hoped in the Leland Province, as Sela the daughter of Kallon & Riza Redheart is already well on her way to being an independent and spirited young lady. Her struggles with understanding the human side of her ancestry is fitting, as part of what endeared me to Redheart was the ability of seeing Gamber’s empathy for exploring the inner crisis of who we are verse our perception of who we are. The undercurrents of which I enjoyed in the first part of this trilogy because it gave a layer of depth to both Kallon and Riza. In the opening chapters, we are not only entranced with young Sela’s plight as a human, but are on the fringes of understanding the full scope of young Brownwing’s daughter’s son (Drell), who in this installment has been cast to the Desert Dragons rather than having taken residence amongst his peers in the Leland mountains.

I appreciate the slow etching of the story to fill in the density of hours as I drink in the gaps between my last visit and now. So much has changed for the dragons and the humans, but a lot has remained the same. There is still a definitive disconnect between the two species, as much as there is an insurrection for containment and control of power. The words which are infused to bring us back into the natural raw beauty of the Leland mountains made me hungry for walking amongst my own natural environs. The longer one takes away from the bond they share with the natural world, the more one’s spirit needs rejuvenation! In this way, I could understand fully the aching Sela felt each time she was pulled quite forcibly to exit the mountains of her home.

Gladdis is first introduced whilst Sela is escorted to the castle for the sorting for the Venur’s marriage ceremony. I like her spunky personality as she rolls with the punches life hands her. Gladdis is the type of instantaneous friend you hope to find whilst caught up in a sea of intrigue! She is the perfect companion for Sela, due to the fact she too has a rebel streak inside her and doesn’t yet know of her true destiny. The fact she hails from the same village as Sela’s mother is kismet. Her inability to understand the plight of dragons and their fight for freedom from being hunted tests the merits of how strong their friendship can truly bond.

Jastin Armitage makes his appearance in this story as a begruffled and aging dragon hunter, jaded beyond repair with a chip on his shoulder whilst caught up in his brother-in-law’s schemes. The fact his heart can still be stirred by memories of Riza is quite encouraging because by all other accounts it would appear he has preferred to be a hermit and recluse, keeping away from society and icing over his heart. His character was the most intriguing to me because he was always torn between conventional standards and the will of his own soul.

Sela | Book 2 Leland Dragons by Jackie Gamber
Orman Thistleby seeking an advantage of truth within the crystal as he makes his way to Riddess Castle
Artwork Credit: Matthew Perry

Destiny isn’t always an easy thing to reconcile. Following your heart and listening to both reason and instinctive murmurings inside your own soul is tempered by the lives of others who are drawn onto your path. What once would appear quite clear to pursue as far as yielding to your own desires, might grow complicated once others are entreated alongside you. Such is the case with Sela, finding her world wrapped around the delicacies of insurrection by proxy default of a man bent on revenge intermixed with greed. The Venur’s only motivation towards marrying a Leland woman is to reclaim the territory of both Esra and Leland Province to fill his own selfish desire for ultimate power and wealth. Yet she is drawn into his sinister plan by the misguided magical interference of a wizard who loses her confidence as soon as Orman Thistleby is within a whisper of a breath from her. Layce is the kind of wizard you feel pity for rather than spite.

Adversaries of the past have a funny way of coming back into your life when you’d rather continue to move forward and away from past transgressions. Blackclaw was one of the most vile and villainous characters I have come across in recent years, and aptly plays the part of a coal-hearted dragon whose scales of pitch black match his inside conscience. Blackclaw is a stealthy calculating adversary of whom Kallon Redheart had every right to fear.  The joy of reading the Leland Dragons series is being a step ahead and behind where the center heart of the story is leading you. Just as you’ve thought you’ve sorted out how everything will start to unfold and ebb back into its natural rhythm you’re thrown for an unexpected revelation you didn’t quite see coming, yet felt somehow could be plausible. When Sela first met Bannon, I felt a hitching inside of me. I could not quite put my finger on what made myself twitch with anticipation but as the chapters shifted forward a beautiful surprise was awaiting me! Drell’s own history and place in Dragonkind kept me glued to the page, as I wanted to see exactly how he differed from his father by the influence of his mother.

In order to examine the heart of your adversary you  have to first question the motives of your own. For Jastin Armitage his inner demons overshadowed the truth he was unwilling to see until it was nearly too late to forgive. Blindness through ignorance is one of the greatest strife’s of all, because it is only through willingness to see what we have blocked out of view of our inner spirit that can give us the freedom from what binds us. True redemption can only be achieved through the purity of one’s remorse.

The best stories are the ones in which the writer endeavours us to draw pensive at the conclusion of the story, and allow the embers of the text re-ignite inside our minds. Turnt over and over until the light of their hidden truths and etchings of character frailties wash over us with a renewed sense of understanding. I love the depth of the Leland Dragon series for it gives such a hearty rendering of the choices we make, not only as citizens of a country or province, but the choices our leaders make which have a direct effect on those who live in their kingdoms. This is a universal story which is not tethered nor limited to dragons. The only limitations are those of the reader who might not want to see what is left behind in the annuls of the dragon’s histories presented in the trilogy.

A compliment on continuity:

Gamber does a wonderful job at fusing together the continuity of the story from the ending chapters of Redheart to the beginnings of Sela! Whilst reading about how the library of the dragon scrolls came into being through the graceful design of Riza, gave me the impression that everything that had been left unresolved in the first book, would re-emerge and transform before my eyes in the second! I love when writers give such a hearty second installment as though we had never actually left the world in which the story resides! We simply pick up where we left off, re-attach ourselves into the fabric of the timescape, and slowly hope for the best resolutions for the characters who are already beloved, as much as the newer characters we are just forming an acquaintance!

I love the architecture of the settings as well, as Gamber uses old techniques of aged wood and carvings to paint the setting in which everything takes place with an ancient feeling of familiarity. Even in Esra Province whilst trapped inside the Venur’s castle compound, there is a rich history lit aflame inside the cavernous walls and passageways. I loved the insertion of both hidden from view entryways and the sunken from sight secret passages. It was always a dream of mine to have a bevy of secret passages inside of a home, so this always plays into the dream of my own yearnings!

And, the way in whichGamber chooses to have the forest and smells of the woods resonate on the tips of your nose, makes you want to abandon the book for a short spell whilst digging your toes into the earth right outside your own window!

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Previously, Jorie reviewed “Redheart” (Book 1 of Leland Dragons) and
interviewed Ms. Gamber soon thereafter. Before featuring a Character Post from Reclamation’s tour, and a second interview with Ms. Gamber specifically geared towards the Leland Dragons series.

Be sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting:
Seventh Star Presson my Bookish Events page!

Cross-listed on: Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays via On Starships & Dragonwings

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Sela” and illustrations by Matthew Perry, book synopsis, author photograph of Ms. Gamber, author biography, and the tour host badge were all provided by Tomorrow Comes Media and used with permission.  Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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 Friday, 7 March, 2014 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Dragon Fiction, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore and Mythology, Good vs. Evil, High Fantasy, Seventh Star Press, Supernatural Fiction, YA Fantasy

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