29 January 2013

Review of Sasha by Joel Shepherd

Sasha (A Trial of Blood & Steel #1)Sasha by Joel Shepherd

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sasha made me grin like an idiot, laugh, and cry. However, there were also parts that made me yawn in boredom, or rage at the grammar. Mostly, though, it was a very enjoyable read.

The main character, Sashandra Lenayin, is the daughter of the Varenthane king, but she has renounced that life, and is living in a small town with the "uncivilized" Goeren-yai, practicing swordwork. She doesn't know it, but she is destined to become a hero, a saviour, of both peoples. Yes, it is that cliched. But I didn't really mind.

The characters are well-drawn for the most part. My favourites are Jaryd Nyvar, the pampered nobleman's son; and Sasha's sister Sofy, the spoiled princess. Both surprised and impressed me with their growth over the course of the story. Sasha herself is unfortunately not as interesting; I've seen this character before.

There is one race of nonhumans in this world: the serrin. Unfortunately, we aren't told much about them, except that many Varenthanes think they are demons. The only serrinim who appear as characters show up very near the end, are described as incredibly beautiful, and are deadly fighters. They are nearly perfect in every way. I found myself imagining Tolkien's Elves.

It seems that Joel Shepherd has no idea that comma splices are incorrect grammar. Or he doesn't care. The text is riddled with them. I would probably not be exaggerating if I said that every single page has at least one. There were very few grammar issues besides. In one place, Sasha muses that "her plan trap worked." This jarred me since I've never seen that phrase used before. Another time, Sasha sees a friend and instead of "saying" his name, "'Andreyis?' she recognized." As far as I am aware, "recognized" is not a dialogue tag.

I found that the plot took a long time to get moving for me. It took me over a week to read the first half, then a day or two to finish. I prefer books that I can read faster than that. I used to read everything, no matter what, but I no longer have the time or the energy to do that.

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