Mike (the Paladin)'s Reviews > Sasha

Sasha by Joel Shepherd
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Nov 19, 14

bookshelves: fantasy
Read from June 15 to July 12, 2010

My rating for this book changed a couple of time as I was reading it...why? Allow me to elaborate. After all, the author loves elaborating :) .

This is a medieval type fantasy with no magic to speak of in sight (not a problem for me by the way...just letting you know if it's important to you). The book takes place (basically) in Lenayin...or among its provinces. Lenayin has 13 provinces, it also has either 3 religions or, more accurately 2 religions and a philosophy. The map of course shows 13 nations (that's 12 beside Lenayin) apparently depending on how you count them. This of course doesn't count the Lisan Empire west of the mountains which is on the map but we haven't really dealt with yet. There is also one non-human race. They get discussed, but we don't really meet any of them till near the end of the book. These are the Serrin. They strike me as sort of Samurai-Elves...or possibly Ninja-Elves.

The geopolitics of this world can come close to putting the ones we actually live with to shame. The new religion hates the old religion, the philosophy wants everybody to live together peacefully, therefore it's not really trusted by anyone not subscribing to it. The people who are of the old religion are mostly the commoners(now) so the "royalty" is actively seeking to convert them in the time honored way of the fanatics of many religions...sword point or sword edge or possibly fire, etc. you know whatever works. (It's for their own good after all.) All this of course started long before the book opens...this means that with the amount of politics and intrigue the author has included we get treated to many long and "windy" discussions for the purposes of plot exposition. Add to this the fact that in time honored "fantasy" novel tradition we are treated to new, unknown, mostly unpronounceable and consonant heavy names. Names of people, names of kingdoms, names of provinces, names of religions (some hyphenated) and many similar "looking".

I looked up and read an interview with Mr. Shepherd and he goes on about how the world and it's politics are far more complicated than we find in most fantasy stories, even taking what I thought was a veiled swipe at Tolkien's worlds...I mean okay come-on. I'm giving you 4 stars but the book's not even in the same arena/league with The Lord of the Rings...get over yourself. Anyway...if he was intending to "intricate-up" his fantasy geopolitics, he succeeded.

Now please, don't leave me a message telling me how you managed to follow the politics. That you just had to concentrate and apply your obviously superior intellect to the matter. I followed it also. The story while overly complicated is readable and so far holds up along with Shepherd's world construction. But come on, it's a fantasy. Mr. Shepherd has a lot to say here and you can read a lot or a little subtext into the story as you prefer. I just felt that "The Story" would have profited by being a little more center stage.

This is a 421 page Trade Paper and I believe it was around page 200 that I actually found myself (finally) being drawn into the story. It faded in and out a few times but finally settled in to tell us the saga of Sasha and the other major players in the central story. In the end I liked it, mostly. There is what seems to be a lot of dead-wood in this novel, though for all I know he may be setting up an epic series that will run on for several more books and need it all. I had the impression that this was to be a trilogy...but now that the third one is out Amazon is referring to a "quartet". (This is an update, there are now 4 books)


Please not another Wheel of Time! Please!

So far I intend to order or obtain the next 2 books (the third one is due out this fall-this is an update. I haven't bought it yet.). This one I rate (in the end) a 4. I went back and forth along the gradation from 3 to 4 several times but once it manages to get "off the ground" it finally manages to spread its wings and flies pretty well.


Update: So far I've put off purchasing the next book(s). There are indeed 2 more already out and at least one more to come (in the not to distant future I assume as there is a title and cover and Amazon is taking pre-orders). I'll probably wait till I see if #4 is the final volume and it's out before I buy. I mean it's not like I don't have other books to read. :)

Update 2: I have purchased the books...have not yet read beyond this volume however. My "to be read" hoard (horde? I mean the books over-running me is becoming a real possibility) is out of hand. "So many books so little time" as it goes.
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Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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Danny Just started this, kinda wish I read your review I did. Now that I have started I feel obligated to read it.


Mike (the Paladin) It's not bad, note I rated it 4 stars. I have the sequels on my shelf, it's just that I have a lot of books I plan to read first. LOL


Stephanie I Petrodor (Book 2) & Tracato (Book 3) are good (Petrodor drags a little). Haven's next for me. I love this series-- I feel like it's a lot better than Shepherd's Cassandra Kresnov series.


Danny I did but I am not fond of overly descriptive writing or conversations and 100 pages in I found how right you were. It's getting better though and I am actually enjoying it now.


Mike (the Paladin) It may be a bit before I finish the series... You'll be ahead of me all the way now, just too many books to keep up with. LOL


Danny Ok im actually really liking it now.


Jeffrey I think Sasha is a good book and I gave it the same 4 stars. I also read the second book. The third book Tracato came out in trade but my B & N did not stock it. I think I may try again when its out in paperback. That being said Stephanie, I am surprised to hear you say that this series is "a lot better than" the Kresnov series.

I like Shepherd's Cassandra Kresnov series a lot. This fantasy series is in many ways typical fantasy fare with a young warrior (granted a woman) achieving success with a sword. There are many such books out there.

However, the first Kresnov book about a humanistic cyborg who applies for citizenship and then helps the citizens fight is nearly classic sf. The central theme of what makes a person a person is ably written there, and while the next two books in that series were not as good, I did not regret ordering them from an Australian bookstore before they were available in the USA.


Stephanie I I don't think that there are many good books out there about a woman achieving success with a sword and as the main character-- maybe you meant there're a lot with men, which I understand. And that avenue has become pretty cliche. But the woman warrior with a sword is a path less traveled.

Off the top of my head, Tamora Pierce's Lioness series and I'll throw in Protector of the small, even though sword wasn't really her weapon of choice (it was a glaive). Others: a good paranormal romance by Illona Andrews, the Blue Sword & the Hero and the Crown....

Could you name some others so I could read them? I thought Sasha was pretty fresh and I can see how the idea seems like there are a lot out there, but the way Sheperd did was very different. In my opinion.


message 9: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jul 04, 2011 01:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike (the Paladin) My favorite is the Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy The Deed of Paksenarrion I have the omnibus edition. There are 2 books of a second trilogy out now. It concentrates on several characters other than Paksenarrion at least one of them is a female swords-woman. Then there are Kristen Britain's Green rider books (Green Rider First Rider's Call The High King's TombBlackveil: Book Four of Green Rider). The Noble Dead books by Barb and J.C. Hendee is primarily about a woman (Magiere) who is a "dhampir". There are also David Gemmell's Hawk Queen novels...I'm sure there are others Modeset wrote Soprano Sorceress, it's a fantasy but the protagonist here is more magic than user than fighter, so may not be what you're looking for. Steven Brust wrote Sethra Lavode (Sethra Lavode) which has a female lead. It's part of a longer series. Oh, Juliet E. Mckenna's The Tales of Einarinn has some female leads also...

As I said I'm sure I've read others but that's all i can think of "off the top of my head". I suppose I could go through my books and jog my memory LOL.


Stephanie I That seems like a good start! As soon as I finish those, I'll come back to you for more! I stand firm that Sasha's a really good series. But maybe I'll change my mind after reading these... :)


message 11: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jul 04, 2011 02:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike (the Paladin) I liked it, note I gave it 4 stars. I just thought it had a few...weak points :). I have the next 2 books, just haven't gotten to them yet.

You might glance through my book list here.


Jeffrey Going back over my book list, I think there are a few other novels about female warriors, but Shepherd's book also shows that she is good at tactics and strategy. It may be that these others listed below are just strong female warrior characters:

Clearly the Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon is one.

Ladylord by Sasha Miller about a Japanese swordswoman was pretty good but probably is Out of Print.

Check out Mercedes Lackey's By the Sword. She also has Oathbound about two woman characters one a swordswoman.

The Darwath Trilogy by Barbara Hambly has a transplanted earthwoman who takes up the sword. The first in that trilogy is Time of the Dark.

Azure Bonds by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb

Sword Dancer by Jennifer Roberson

Woverine's Daughter by Durana Durgin

Heroing by Dafydd ab Hugh

The Sword of Winter by Marta Randall


message 13: by Lyuba (new) - added it

Lyuba I agree, the author overly complicates everything. I already lost track of all the names, religions, areas, races and I'm only on page 57!!!!


Brittany over complicates? I found it fairly easy to follow, the names and locations didn't bother me in the least. It is fantasy after all and that's why I love fantasy! As for your comment regarding Lord of the Rings, in my opinion this is better. Lord of the Rings could have been cut into two books and half the crap in it thrown away. But that's just my opinion


Mike (the Paladin) Yes, it is.


Brittany nice response ;)


message 18: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Sep 19, 2012 09:47AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike (the Paladin) I'm very much into "to each their own" when it comes to books. We won't hold the same opinions or have the same taste, otherwise there's be fewer authors.


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