I LOVE Asian centered stories and this one is about dragon gods! Talk about two for one!! Plus you historical fiction lovers… this may be the book for you… come check out why! (PLUS an eBook copy of Gate of Air giveaway or pick it up on Amazon for 99¢ for a limited time…)
Gate of Air
Dragon Gods, #1
by Resa Nelson
Published June 19th 2017
A new series based on the same world as the Dragonslayer Saga, Frayka is tasked by the Northland gods to find the dragon gods of the Far East. With an old map in hand and the companionship of her new husband, she sets off not knowing how different her land is toward woman… As her and her foreign husband meet delay after delay Frayka feels abandoned by her portents which guided her so well in the past… will she ever be able to convince the dragon gods and save her people from the wrath of their Northland ones?
Historical Magical Realism
This started slow considering what I thought it was which is a dragon fueled adventure fantasy… About half way I realized the book was quite good but it WASN’T what I anticipated. In reality this reads like historical fiction with mythology and magic brought to life. A sort of magical realism if you would. And THAT it does VERY WELL!
The blurb isn’t lying about what the book is about but leaves out some aspects of the premise:
-Multiple POVs with Frayka as simply the central protagonist. There is GranGran, an Emperor and a princess too! Actually I quite enjoyed this aspect of the story as Nelson is quite good at making the alternating POVs stand out as individual characters! I liked that there were two older POVs and two younger POVs as it showed the one trying to deal with the other…
-Central to the story are obstacles of culture clash! Frayka has been raised in a society where woman are honored for their role in society and expected to be open and straightforward. Where as the Far East is as backwards as you’d expect this medieval time period to be! Woman are second class citizens no better than slaves, mayhap even worse as they can’t be bartered.
-For all the culture clash this is a story about three powerful female POVs as well as a female dragon god set in a world that makes it hard to be a woman! Despite the historical slant the story feels pertinent to what is going on in the world today.
-Family plays a huge part in the story… Frayka meets a long lost family member and has difficulties with Njall, her husband. Plus the emperor worries for the princess who has come of age to be married and can be treated in the same way as all of the women of his province! These relationships are well played in the story and have a powerful role in the culture clash…
Strong Prose with a Balanced Writing Style
The writing was quite good and made this book an easier read than you expect! It’s actually fun and reads like culture and I’m super enjoying it though our girl and her husband are a little dense! Most historical fiction is rather heavy and weaves all of the research that is being done into the story in mini-info dumps… BUT SUCH IS NOT THE CASE HERE!! The history IS THE WORLD and as such the plot arises quite naturally from said history. I felt like what was happening with the Emperor and his daughter meshed quite well with GranGran and Frayka.
GAH! This clothing description just gives you a brief taste of the detail as well as the simplicity of the writing…
“While Frayka peeled off her Northlander clothing, she folded each piece neatly and gazed at it with fondness. First she removed her jewelry: two large silver brooches pinning her layers of dresses together at each shoulder and the string of amber and silver beads that connected the brooches, all new and given to her by her father before she married Njall. A bright green coat embroidered with silvery thread.”
Unexpected Direction Due to Cover
I admit the cover deceived me, giving me expectations that were out of context to what I got… that said I LOVE that green and yellow swirl and the ghostly smoke dragon! It’s attractive and gives you a sense of the world building. While I would have preferred for the dragon god from the book to be illustrated on the cover with butterfly clothing and all BUT this is a great second best… and it goes quite well with the title of the book…
The title does totally fit the book but it also hints at one problem… there is more than one gate… 4 to be exact and so this is really one book split into 4 and it ends rather abruptly even if in the exact place you’d expect if you think about the title! I didn’t hold the end against the book as the plot there was developed to a nice climax. But yeah everything is not solved and there are loose threads all over the place. As expected as that was I was a little peeved (unless I’m given the NEXT BOOK and then all is forgiven!)
As a reader I LOVED it!
History and mythological with a little magic. For female readers it will be quite compelling to delve into the issues of womanhood and how much of yourself you sacrifice to get what you need done. Be prepared to have your curiosity stirred up with unanswered questions and a need to know what happens with the princess and Frayka’s task!
Gods! Vikings! Far Easterners! Married Couple! Family! Mythology! Culture! Feminism! Multiple POVs!
As a writer, I would have liked book one to NOT feel so much like setup for the world and the rest of the story. That means MORE development and better storycraft!
-One choice could have been to write the story less linear. Spacing out the time with her father and mother in her home town and on the boat with Nijall as back flashes. They could serve as a contrast to how Frayka was feeling in the present time with the circumstances she was in, in the Far East and think how good she had it back then.
-Another idea is to make the princess a full secondary character in the blurb and make this a pitched battle womano a womano! This would have naturally added some tension to the story and then book one finishing where it did would have felt more natural since it ends more on the princess than on success with Frayka’s task.
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Premise & World Building
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Cover & Title
⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Development & Storycraft
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing & Narrative
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Relationships
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Feelings
Historical Far East fun with gods and goddesses!
About the Author.
Resa Nelson is the author of the 4-book Dragonslayer series: The Dragonslayer’s Sword (nominated for the Nebula Award, finalist for the EPPIE Award), The Iron Maiden , The Stone of Darkness , and The Dragon’s Egg . Her 4-book Dragonfly series takes place after the Dragonslayer series.
Her standalone novels include the mystery/thrillers All Of Us Were Sophie and Our Lady of the Absolute .
Resa has been selling short stories professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), and she is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop. Resa was the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years as well as a regular contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.
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Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.