MiniReviews: I, Exile and Under Heaven. Or two very different books and some thoughts

Hello people! How are you? And how are your reading going? I hope that you and your family are safe! Today I am here with two minireviews for two books that I have read in the last weeks. I have not a lot to say about them, but I wanted to share them with you all anyway, and so here I am with two short reviews! I hope you would enjoy!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: I, Exile
Author: David Samuels
Page Count: 220

Exiled into a wasteland because of a heist gone wrong, Emelith vows to hunt down the one responsible. Except not all is what it seems in the haunted realm of the Cauldron.

Well, the synopsis here is not one of the longest, that’s true, but at least it is pretty accurate. Emelith is our MC and we follow her during a not so good heist, imprisonment and the exile which follows. She is exiled in a sort of wasteland, in which surviving is not so sure, and in which live some scary things. Or creatures. Whatever. But she didn’t care about all this. She cares for one thing, and one thing only: revenge against her partner, who betrayed her.
But then after encountering some interesting characters, a tribe who lives in this desert wasteland and their seer, she discovers that things aren’t so simple, and she finds herself between a war for the destiny of the world.

The story is good and interesting. You won’t get bored while reading, that’s for sure. We see a lot of action, explorations, and some internal dynamics between the characters and the tribe so that’s good.
What is a shame, here, is the worldbuilding. It is not that it is bad. It is just that this could have been the strongest feature of this book because the author creates something original and interesting. But it is also quite complex, and we don’t get to see enough of it. On one hand, we see a lot of strange and different creatures, and this was pretty good, but we understand that there are a ton of different cultures and races on the world he creates for us, and we don’t get to see a lot of them. We see some, but not enough. And this was a shame because there are so many potentialities in there!

So, this was a pleasant reading, the right one if you want a bit of adventure to spice up your afternoon, it is good if you want to read something not too demanding, maybe to take a break from other readings, and it is a good choice if you just want to busy yourselves with some captivating travels and adventures, but it could have been so much more. It feels, in a way, sort of incomplete, even if you would enjoy the reading anyway.

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Title: Under Heaven
Series: Under Heaven #1
Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Page Count: 573

It begins simply. Shen Tai, son of an illustrious general serving the Emperor of Kitai, has spent two years honoring the memory of his late father by burying the bones of the dead from both armies at the site of one of his father’s last great battles. In recognition of his labors and his filial piety, an unlikely source has sent him a dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses.
You give a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You give him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.
Wisely, the gift comes with the stipulation that Tai must claim the horses in person. Otherwise he would probably be dead already…
 

Even if Guy Gavriel Kay is a famous author in the rest of the world, it isn’t really so in Italy, and I never heard of him before starting this blog, but one day (and this was way before I started this blog) I was on a secondhand bookshop and perusing the shelves I found the Italian translation of this book, and I bought it on a whim. And then I put it on my shelves and it rested there for some years waiting for its turn.

I can’t really say why I bought it, because the plot wasn’t so compelling to me, and this was the main reason it waited for so long on the shelves. But then I started to see the name of the author around the blogging community, and when the Bingo card came out on Redditt I discovered that this book was the right one for different squares, and so I finally managed to read it! And I am so grateful I did it!

On one hand, I have to say that this book is not my cup of tea. This is strongly based on the Chinese Empire, and I am not a big fan of this setting. A book set in modern China? Great! But a book set in the past? Hmm… I pass, thank you very much. The point is that I am not a big fan of historic settings, and the Asian Empires are strongly associated in my mind with a ton of plots, annoying characters (usually the Emperor and his counselors) and unhappy endings for everyone involved. So not a big fan here, sorry.
And it is not really fantasy. Yes, we have a touch of paranormal here and there, but it is just a touch and we could have done without. So… historical fiction with a bit of magical realism? Maybe, but fantasy… nope. And I am not a fan of magical realism, either.
So… why on heart I have read it? I don’t know. But I loved it!

The author is a master of his craft, his prose is fantastic, lyrical and majestic. His setting is full of life, and he recreates for us an entire era. We really see what he shows us, we hear the sounds he describes, and we are teleported there, in this faraway land. And we slowly fall in love with it. And we have a plurality of POV that helps keep the attention on the story and its flow. It is not a perfect book, some little things could have been done better, like Mei-Lin’s storyline, for example, but they are just minor things in something that is a masterpiece.

I loved this book, and it was a surprise. I don’t think I would read the sequel, even if this can sound a bit strange, but I loved this one. I loved the characters, they feel real to me, I loved the atmospheres, the world, the story, and the plots. Sometimes going out of your comfort zone could be a magnificent idea!

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What about you? Have you read these books? Or some others by the same authors? Let me know!!!

Happy reading!
S.

9 thoughts on “MiniReviews: I, Exile and Under Heaven. Or two very different books and some thoughts

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    I, Exile sounds very interesting but, as you pointed out, under-developed – and once I noticed the page count for it, only 220, I understood where the problem might lie. Still, it might be perfect for an… intermission between weightier tomes 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: April WRAP-UP!

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