A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | feat. #IndieFantasy novelist Kira Weston with “The Fighter of Aldea” the first installment in this trilogy!

Posted Tuesday, 25 May, 2021 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: In  Spring (2019) I participated in an event uniting book bloggers and Indie Authors called #ReviewPit. One of the authors I discovered during this event was Kira Weston – her s/o about the novel on Twitter was most enticing (see also tweet) but it was the premise which captured me the most – elemental sorcery, strong female lead, a world without electricity and the complexities of the relationships between the sorcerers and the humans! All knitted up together in a #YAFantasy which felt like a wicked good read if you ask me! The fact she was keenly open to sending out print copies of the novel touched my heart as not every author can send them.

I was seeking stories during #ReviewPit which caught my eye for their uniqueness but also what was quite lovely is how most of the stories which intrigued me to read were actually within the realms of Fantasy! I found this wicked interesting and it is why I was thankful during #WyrdAndWonder Year 2 I could continue to celebrate my love of Indie Authors & Indie Publishers and Press!

I received a complimentary copy of “The Fighter of Aldea” direct from the author Kira Weston in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: I received this novel for review in [2019] however due to five migraines throughout Wyrd And Wonder, I was unable to finish my readings in May. I re-attempted to read this during different portions of late Summer and mid-Autumn, finding myself unable to re-attach into the story. Fast forward through several months of migraines and illnesses (September-December, 2019) and the entire Spring of 2020 – it wasn’t until our 4th Wyrd And Wonder (May 2021) I could resume my readings of this novel with wicked sweet enjoyment! Thereby, over 25% of this was writ in May, 2019 and the rest was finalised in May, 2021.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Finding an entry of #YAFantasy during #ReviewPit:

When I first learnt of the #bookishTwitter event #ReviewPit, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect – I keep a watchful eye on twitterverse events where writers are seeking betareaders or where authors are seeking publication (ie. #PitchWars, etc) as I generally find #newtomeauthors this way and I do like to champion the writers who are on their path towards becoming published as this is something I can personally relate to as I’m a writer whose currently moonlighting as a book blogger and joyful tweeter! It is lovely to reach out into the Indie community on Twitter and continue to seek out the stories I desire to be reading. Ever since I first started blogging here at Jorie Loves A Story, I’ve had an eye out for Indie Press, Publishers and the writers who are seeking alternative publication – either through the Indie side of publishing directly through established publishers and press; or through Small Trade publishers or taking the full-Indie route into Self-Publishing or Hybrid publishing options.

This is what made #ReviewPit such a keen event for me – I decided to just jump into it and see what I would find. It is run similar to other events where you get a pitch about a story and you are given a clue of a nod towards its genre of interest. I quite literally had such a wicked joy just scrolling through all the lovelies being offered, I wasn’t entirely sure how many would be available to receive as print editions for review but I decided to give myself the chance to just seek out the authors first and request which ones were available lateron.

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ahead of accepting my #reviewpit selections
I enquired about the stories:

Whenever I am about to read a #newtomeauthor, I like to get a feel for their writing style and how they are approaching their genre of interest. It is part of my due diligence as a reader and as a book blogger – however, I do not always have the pleasure nor luxury of interacting with an author directly ahead of accepting a novel for review consideration. This is why the event #ReviewPit is such a wicked lovely idea – as it encourages direct communication between the novelist and the book blogger and/or reviewer.

I have the same general questions about all the STORIES I am keenly interested in reading – this was the series of questions I asked on behalf of Kira Weston who happily gave me a lovely response in return: The YA I love the most is writ clean without explicit vulgarity, overt sensuality and without graphic violence; I know some authors write those into their stories which makes me feel their more Upper YA than traditional YA; overall I’m not a fan despite a few exceptions to that rule where I read stories involving mental health or other harder topics.

Overall, I would say my book is pretty mild and would be considered more traditional than upper YA. There is nothing particularly vulgar or sensual in the novel, and the violence that is in the book (mostly battle violence) isn’t particularly graphic. I’ve had a few 13-year-old readers without any complaints/concerns from them or their parents.

I wanted to share with you my dear heart readers the information I was given per book during my #ReviewPit queries in case one of the lovelies I’ve been reading this #WyrdAndWonder is catching your own eye of curiosity! This way, you’ll see the process I went through to accept the stories and what I was most concerned about prior to reading them. As you can see – the author’s response on behalf of The Fighter of Aldea fell within my personal preferences and layers of acceptance.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Notation on Cover Art Design: 

The cover art really hones in on Lydia and how she wants herself to be known – she’s a fighter, yes, but her passion is for archery. I can understand her preference with a bow and arrow; as archery is a sport in of itself but also a challenge to the archer for both accuracy and power within the strength of how you use the bow itself. I liked the look of Lydia on the cover but also how this is a crucial piece of insight into the world she lives in as well.

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | feat. #IndieFantasy novelist Kira Weston with “The Fighter of Aldea” the first installment in this trilogy!The Fighter of Aldea
by Kira Weston
Source: #ReviewPit Author, Direct from Author

It’s the year 2216, and ever since Lydia Humsworth was little, she’s heard stories about electricity that used to light up skylines and planes that soared through the sky like birds. There were also stories about The Shift, which plunged the world into darkness nearly two hundred years ago and gave some people magical abilities. These people came to call themselves sorcerers.

Now, in the small village of Aldea, sixteen-year-old Lydia is training to be a Fighter in hopes of one day protecting her village. Her best friend, Daniel, spends his days working long hard hours on the farm. Humans and sorcerers have always seemed to coexist peacefully, but when a deranged sorcerer by the name of Leonardo Kinch starts a war against humans, nothing is as they believed.

When war rages across the country, Lydia and Daniel must do everything they can to stop Kinch and stay alive, or risk the human race falling into extinction.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Mythological Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction, YA Fantasy

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781732254800

Published by Cool Cat Publishing

on 15th October, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 364

Published by: Cool Cat Publishing

Discover MORE about this novel on the author’s site!

The sequel will be called: The Sorcerer of Vantana!

Formats Available: Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Kira Weston

Kira Weston

Kira Weston writes Young Adult fiction, often day-dreaming the what-ifs of magic and science fiction, and how they might affect the world. Her debut novel, The Fighter of Aldea, is available now. Kira grew up in Las Vegas, NV under the hot sun and the distant lights of the famous Las Vegas Strip, and now resides in Colorado, which is much cooler—most of the time.

When she's not writing, she spends her time befriending cats, hoping for rain, drinking mochas, and listening to music.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

a short extract from “The Fighter of Aldea”:

Quote The Fighter of Aldea provided by the author and is used with permission.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

my review of the fighter of aldea:

Lydia is a determined girl even if her trainer isn’t as convinced she has the determination to make it in the competition as he would prefer her to have as she makes her way towards becoming a Fighter. The key issue with her technique is a common obstacle for anyone really – not having full reliance on only one sensory attribute such as sight. It takes a lot of work and patience to re-hone yourself into knowing things with all your senses than just one as by relying on sight alone, you’ve short-changed yourself to what is plausible to be known through hearing, touch and the foreboding intuitive sense most of us are blocked to accepting without criticism. She has the instincts for battle but it is limited by her ability to trust herself beyond what she can readily visualise.

As you walk with her in her village, you start to notice how there is a feeling of loss permeating throughout this world as she makes mention of the loss of technology. That perked my interest – as what would takeaway the industrial machines used for construction? Instead, in the wake of that transition her people have rallied to rely more on what they can build with their hands than with any technological interference – something which ought to be more acceptable now as technology is leant on to a higher degree than what man can produce himself. As we perceive her world, we also notice how inventive they are – as Daniel, the bloke who lives across the street gives you the impression of that ingenuity with how he keeps dry from the downpour which caught Lydia off-guard!

Daniel and Lydia share a special bond with each other – it was forged when they were children wherein Weston writes such a sweet beginning of friendship for them to have had – involving a sunset and pebbles which spark a light of fire inside them against the sun. As you muse about how their story begins, you start to see how the world they live in was our own with one key exception: their world stopped becoming ours the day electricity ended. Their entire planet had a chance to heal itself from the toils of man because the one element that caused the greatest harm had been removed. It’s a pointed argument to have in a novel where you contemplate the world’s advances against the inherent knowledge of how what we do in one generation can have a precipitated effect on the next and how without changing course on how we proceed forward might have a cause for concern in later generations. It was here where Weston truly shined in having her thesis for the novel revealled but also with a critical eye on the underlying suspenseful notion of what could have caused everything to end and be no more? She had me hooked dear hearts!!

Interestingly enough, it is the choice in year which I was struck by most – Weston used the year (2020) when Aldea experienced their great Shift as it is referenced. It struck me dearly because of course in our own reality and timeline that marked a year of great change for the world. Not an electrical shift but it definitely put public health and choices in personal social engagements into focus as much as how some basic necessities in public hygiene and cleanliness had grown lax or disappeared completely due to complacency. In other words, Aldea might have shifted two hundred years into a continuous non-electrical future but the truer curiosity is what has our world shifted into now? This is another layer of reason why I love Speculative Fiction and the questions those stories propose to us all to contemplate.

There is a beautiful analogy shared between Daniel and Lydia about how blessed they are for the world in which Aldea exists compared to the world in which their ancestors had known themselves; considering the end of war, technological advanced societies and the ceasefire of crimes by way of conventional weapons which are no longer manufactured in their timeline due to the erasure of electric and technologic engineering. It showed how sometimes living without is a better gain than to live with everything where there is neither want or need but simply a surplus of whatever can become invented and constructed. Whether positive or negative or in the marked margins betwixt and between; sometimes, the future you cannot foresee which alters a course of History might be the better future in which to thrive. At least, this is what I was deducing by the conversation these two friends had shared – both through their thoughts, their conversation and their memories. Except of course, no future is perfect and theirs has a hidden secret nemesis which I felt might re-hinge their world into a precarious balance between light and dark inasmuch as any other era and generation had to fight through themselves.

The competitiveness in this world is quite stellar. They host annual competitions which showcase the skill set of everyone in the village every year. This particular year when their both sixteen Daniel and Lydia find themselves in the interesting position of being winners in their own fields of choice. For Daniel it is the art and skills needed as a farmer and for Lydia, it is her deft courage as a fighter and her mindfulness of fighting by not allowing another opponent to outwit or outmatch your own strengths but rather capitalise on what you know about defense and offense in a way that offsets their own advantages against you. Watching them both compete was brilliant but it was how Weston pulled you into the contests themselves – as if you were also a spectator in the stands, cheering them on and hoping for an outcome that would grant each of them to be a champion! The fever of those sequences was quite high and seeing how Weston arranged the ordering of the contests was quite cleverly spun as you didn’t wish to exit before seeing the final showdowns!

Weston anchours us so brilliantly into Lydia and Daniel’s lives wherein she makes a strong impression on the reader about this world of Aldea. Of the checks and balances in place to protect everyone’s livelihood and the order of life therein to be a fail safe to prevent the tragedies of past centuries before the Shift. In doing so, she elongates out the revelations about the magic systems in this setting – though she had mentioned it is elemental magic, wherein the bearers of the magic themselves control one to three or more elements in their arsenal and can use those elements to create flames and balls of energy which then are cast outward of their palms. It is how you use that kind of magic that sets in motion the kind of sorcerer you are and of which morals you adhere too.

This is where it gets interesting – because a restless Lydia stumbles into a secreted meeting of sorcerers to where she learns of a devious plot to overthrow Aldea through genocide. It is an insidious plot – to where there is an overlord sorcerer who thinks he has the best outline for Aldea’s future which would erase the right to be alive if you were merely a human without the enhanced powers of a sorcerer. The whole concept is bunk of course, but how do you stop one man from uniting thousands towards his cause? He wants to overthrow their entire way of life and I felt gutted for Lydia – as a sole witness to the whole situation unfolding just outside her village. You knew war was imminent but what you didn’t know is how could Aldea survive it?

The elemental magic of this world is wicked awesome! To conjure energy balls and to have each ball a different colour coded to the element or elements the sorcerer can use to cast the energy out of their body and into the world is just fascinating! Of course, with great magic comes harder consequences which is why I felt the sequences of time after Lydia’s sensory disability was explained, the story took a wonderful turn to showcase how someone can come back from both injury and a major life adjustment due to the injury. The key of course is their willingness to adapt and to change their patterns of behaviour and movement to re-attach back into their life whilst remaining mindful of their disability and not to quit living simply because something tragic happened to them. It was a beautiful celebration of finding the positive out of a negative situation and keeping hope alive in order to get past the rougher bits which everyone could relate too themselves.

This novel ends on a cliffhanger – which generally I take grievance with as I want to know more about the next sequences of the story quite quickly when it could take years to have those next installments published. However, what was satisfying about how this first novel concluded is all the remarkable changes and reveals at the end! I was quite shocked in some ways about Daniel’s hidden gift but part of me questioned if there was more to the magic system in this world. Weston didn’t entirely explain how it all works – how those with latent talent develop their gifts vs those who were already bourne knowing they were elementals. It gives a lot of leeway for Weston and gives me more curious thoughts to contemplate!

The character who surprised me the most was Anna. She doesn’t even enter into the story until nearly the very end of this first novel in the series. She’s quite the woman – if you consider, by appearances she appears to be quite stubborn and innocent. Behind that cloak of personality though lies a truly remarkable person and it was her scenes with Daniel and Lydia which truly drove home how much I’ve become attached to this world! Aldea is just one part of the world and if you look at the map of America, Weston has overlaid her world onto our own – but again, in a future that is not like ours but there are remnants of the past in her world we’d recognise ourselves.

The war is starting to rage now – Weston also revealled there are creatures of darkness in this world and I had a feeling the next installment might occupy the war itself and the battles between magic and humanity; with those creatures taking up a lot of the narrative as well because of what they might be conjured to accomplish. Weston has written such a wicked brilliant story, it is hard not to read this lovely in one sitting. I chose to take my time reading it this May and I am grateful I had the chance to discover Aldea and Weston’s style of Fantasy. I definitely want to seek out the sequel and continue to follow where Weston shall lead me into her next stories and/or series.

In regards to the world being built within this world

I think what I loved most about the world of Aldea is how this futuristic world went a different way than what was planned for it. Meaning, there was an entire shifting from a technological age rooted in electricity and innovation to an age where everyone had to rely on other means of invention in order to progress forward. It was a curious concept – where something would alter the course of the world, pairing down our reliance on electricity completely and forcing us to live differently since the days we ‘let go’ of gaslights, lighted lanterns and all the lovely bits you can appreciate through Steampunk literature! This was a world forced to move retroactively backwards in regards to how it progressed towards a future no one had every theorised as being plausible!

That in of itself was quite the joy to uncover because generally speaking most of Speculative Fiction follows certain concepts for either the past, the present or the future. The Fighter of Aldea was attempting to make the case for what kind of world we could occupy if the space we had to thrive on modern technologic advances was suddenly removed from existing. It puts the world in a unique perspective if you consider how much of our current world relies on its tech and electrical industries!

When it comes to how the magic in this world is constructed – it has already been established and has its own boundaries in regards to how its usage can be ultised by those who are gifted with elemental control. This world is a futuristic exploration of what would happen if the world which was run on electricity ceased to exist – thereby, it is a bit Steampunky in the method of how technology and gadgets run on steam power rather than a different kind of fuel. I didn’t see solar, wind or hyrdo being used either – so it does have that lovely frame of reference built into its backbone for readers of Steampunk. The persons in power though find they’ve been short-sighted in how to handle the distribution of rights in regards to the elemental sorcerers which is where a lot of the conflict and angst originates – it is through that lens which Weston explores how this world of Aldea can become altered once again past the original Shift.

Small fly in the ointment:

The only issue I took with reading this novel is the differing fonts – in the first section, the font is quite difficult to read and when it exchanges POVs and features Daniel, the font gets wickedly bold and easier to read. I’m not sure why the font changes if the story changes POVs but I wish in some respects a bolder had been used throughout the book rather than a thinner font which is harder to adjust reading too. Despite the hurdles with the font, I was so caught inside the world Weston had written, I tried to not worry about the font and the issues it gave me as a reader.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

on the fantastical musings of speculative novelist kira weston:

You are drawn into this competitive world because of how organically taut Weston has developed her story and the character you feel you better than this being your first acquaintance with her due to how passionate she is about becoming a Fighter. In her world, this is an honour but not a guaranteed position because this world is hinged to competition.

What is interesting about how Weston wrote The Fighter of Aldea is that you are reading a story which changes points-of-view as you move between Lydia and Daniel’s focused chapters of revealling the story through their own perspectives therein. It isn’t often I get to read stories which shift the narrative between different characters whilst I don’t believe I’ve read many novels which also alter the type of font used to discern which character is being focused.

There are also more than a few tongue-in-cheek references to a life and reality we as readers will recognise but in this world of Aldea – the characters do not have those same references points we will when certain things are mentioned. I loved this because it showed the transitional time between what we would recognise within the world and where this world has shifted forward to where those ordinary items are no longer familiar to anyone.

Very early-on I could tell I was going to enjoy Weston’s descriptive phrasing – as she finds ways to connect you into this world she’ built – both visually and with a personal edge. For instance, I’ve always lamented I’ve burnt out of living in a volcanic environ and having widely mentioned how much I loathe Spring and Summer over the years – it was definitely a personal bone of contention to recognise Daniel’s disdain of the heat and sweltering fire the sun etches through your body. The sun can scorch you until you feel as if you’ve either melted or half cremated because of how much of its wrath can push through your skin under its rays. I definitely found her descriptions both acutely accurate and wickedly relatable. Not just in this instance to describe one element of all of our lives which can become affected by both climate and season, but by how she chose to engage us into the rhythms of this world through our own world’s points of references and familiarities. Especially considering her world and ours are not entirely displaced cousins but rather her world is a prime example of what could happen to our own if certain events manifest themselves rather than her world being a hypothesis that couldn’t happen in our own timeline.

loved the dual narrative – wherein we have a dual POV storyline fuelled through both Lydia and Daniel’s perspectives wherein they perfectly align into each other and offer the best compliment to see the story as they are living through it themselves. You get to gain both their opinions and their knowledge about Aldea but you also get to tuck close to how their living their own lives. Their friendship is what unites them but they each have their own fusion of thoughts and ideas about why this way of life is best for them and for all of Aldea. I know now I am going to enjoy pursuing other stories of Low Fantasy as I hadn’t realised what that part of Fantasy encompassed until now and it is quite the stimulating read as there are quiet moments of introspective thought against the backdrop of the action which forces everyday heroes out of everyone who wants to protect not only their own families but the rights of everyone in their world. I know Low Fantasy might explore other topics and segues of interest but for me, I am thankful The Fighter of Aldea was my portal into this particular niche of Fantasy.

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Seeking out the fantastical elements –

→ A world which is retroactively focused on non-electrical industries and advancements

→ Elemental magic and/or sorcery

The elemental magic in this system and world is still on the fringes of being explained outright to the reader. We gained the most insight into it and into the classifications of sorcerers when Daniel and Lydia met Anna. I’d love to see this further expounded upon in the sequel and perhaps even explored in further depth – as at the last quarter of the novel, Weston started to let us peer into her choices for the magic system and the differences between those who use elemental magic for good vs those who would rather chose a darker path than the majority. And, therein lies the curiosity for the reader whose suspended a bit in knowing more about the magic and how this war will put human against sorcerer.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

This book review is courtesy of: Kira Weston

The Fighter of Aldea banner provided by the author and is used with permission.

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whilst being read during my participation of:

#WyrdAndWonder Year 4 banner created by Jorie in Canva.


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Enjoying my fantastical reviews about the worlds of Fantasy?

Ever since the beginning of Jorie Loves A Story, I have embarked on a Quest to seek out stories within the worlds of Fantasy which would heighten my awareness of the genre and give me wicked good reads – across the subniches of a genre I’ve loved since I was seventeen. Every May, I happily co-host @WyrdAndWonder – whilst throughout the months of the year, I regularly read & discuss the Fantasy reads I am discovering.

Visit my full archive for ALL my #EnterTheFantastic wanderings! As well as take a walkabout through my archives for #WyrdAndWonder – or take a walkabout through my archive for everything deemed wickedly fantastical!

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What are you doing this #WyrdAndWonder?

I look forward to reading your Wyrd And Wonder adventures – leave links to your posts in the comments so I can find what you’ve currently been sharing! Also, are you working on our book bingo board this year!? Joining the group RAL or have you read a wicked good Fantasy story!?

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{SOURCES: Cover art of  “The Fighter of Aldea” as well as the author photograph for Kira Weston, author biography, book synopsis and all the promotional banners for “The Fighter of Aldea” were all provided by the author Kira Weston and are used with permission of the author Kira Weston. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #WyrdAndWonder 4th Year banner, #WyrdAndWonder Book Review banner and the comment box banner.}

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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 Tuesday, 25 May, 2021 by jorielov in Alternative History, Book Review (non-blog tour), Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Low Fantasy, Self-Published Author

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