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Amor vincit omnia. As a new leader, pledged to dark forces, takes the Sceptre, can the embattled, valiant women of Athering prove that the power of love is greater than the love of power?

All Bellica Yarrow wants from life is to stay the course. Her military career fulfills her childhood dreams and affords her a freedom royalty never did. Yarrow doesn't need anything more than the steadfast friendship of her Major, Caelum, and her Chief Medical Officer Jules.

The Goddesses have other plans, however. They set in motion events that threaten the Bellica with madness and despair. Constancy has been Yarrow's standby, but betrayals on every side push her further into chaos. She watches the puppet-Empress, her aunt, destroy the country, and dreads the day Zardria, her power-hungry twin sister, takes the Sceptre and rules openly.

Should Bellica Yarrow keep her military oath, or topple her sister's cruel regime? Can she?

The choice is nearly impossible. The longer she equivocates, the more she risks the lives of everyone she holds dear. Meanwhile, Zardria has her own idea of how events should unfold – and what Yarrow doesn't know could cost the Bellica her life.

350 pages, Paperback

First published November 25, 2011

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About the author

Katje van Loon

8 books86 followers
Katje van Loon was raised surrounded by deep forests, wild wolves, witches, and books, with a warrior woman single mother to learn from. According to that mother, Katje's first poem was created when she was barely a toddler, and writing has been a huge part of her life since childhood.

It was probably only natural that Katje would grow up to write books about witches, wolves, and warrior women, as those things formed the basis of her formative years. Now if only she could find a magic spell to make writing go a bit faster for her....

Currently Katje is a wild witch trapped in the big city. Her dream is to drag her spouse off to a town small enough that everyone knows their names, and where the woods are so close she only needs take one half-step to disappear into them.

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5 stars
12 (63%)
4 stars
4 (21%)
3 stars
1 (5%)
2 stars
1 (5%)
1 star
1 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Profile Image for Shona Kinsella.
Author 20 books32 followers
March 28, 2017
I recently finished reading Bellica by Katje Van Loon and I'm glad that I did. The book is free on Amazon or the author's website so if you like fantasy, you have nothing to lose by giving this book a chance.
The story follows several viewpoint characters and I enjoyed seeing the events from so many different perspectives. If I had one complaint it would be that some of these characters only have one or two sections from their POV, making them easily forgettable in such a large tale.
My favourite character is not the "main" character, Bellica Yarrow but instead the healer Ghia. I liked Ghia's strength and wit, her willingness to give her all to help others and her dedication to her job. Yarrow is a less sympathetic character, despite having multiple scenes from her POV. It's hard to get a grasp of what she actually cares about.
The author did a very good job with her "villain" Zardria, setting her up as a distant monster and then taking us in close to see how she became the woman that she is and show her more reasonable side.
One of the things that really stood out in this book is the author's study of gender. The status quo is switched so that women are dominant in this society and in all most of the positions of leadership. Van Loon also makes interesting use of gendered words - wife, for example, means male spouse in Athering, while husband means female spouse. The book examines gender roles without becoming preachy.
Bellica is an enjoyable fantasy novel and I look forward to reading more by this author - I've already bought a copy of the sequel, The Jade Star of Athering.
Profile Image for Brian Rush.
Author 28 books7 followers
March 16, 2013
It’s not often that I give a five-star review. My criteria for this hinge on three things: plot and action, characterization, and writer’s voice and verbalization. At least two of these have to stand out as well above standard. In the case of Bellica, both the story and the characterization are so superior that I can’t give the book less than the highest rating.

The story is set in a society that seems to be a technologically devolved human colony on a distant planet — although the people living in it have no concept of space travel. Certainly more advanced ages occurred in the past, and some relics of the past still exist to be exploited even if they are unreliable. There is also a native race, the Magi, that are described and presented and characterized in just enough detail to make them believable and fun, without turning the book into a history or biology text. The society has some very curious cultural elements that are not fully explained and perhaps not fully understood by its own citizens, or taken for granted. It is a matriarchy in just about every respect, down to the modes of address, courtesy gestures, and religion (polytheistic goddess-worship with barely the recognition that a “god” is even a possible concept), as well as the government. The main story involves the succession to the throne. The Empress has died before her heir is of age (at 30). The heir is universally loathed, and is one of twin sisters, with the other twin being universally admired. The heir’s twin serves as a “bellica” — a military commander of a regiment (female of course) — and is regarded as the best warrior in the empire. A plot develops to overthrow the heir (Zardria) and replace her with her bellica twin-sister (Yarrow). The conspiracy involves other important characters, and the story winds through mazes of intrigue, deception, setbacks, magical surprises, strange discoveries, and bizarre twists to a conclusion that I at least did not anticipate until near the end. There is lots of exciting action, plenty of romance, devious plotting, and wondrous magic.

The characters are splendid. Yarrow, her “Major” (second-in-command, for some reason usually male), Zardria, Yarrow’s friend and fellow-bellica Anala, Anala’s Major Ano, all of these are memorable, but the character that enchanted me completely was the young healer Ghia. Part-Magi (don’t ask me how that was possible; I don’t know and neither did they) with extraordinary powers, Ghia combines a magnificent heart, a sharp mind, a degree of self-destructive hubris, incredible and sometimes foolish courage, emotional blindness, and the silliness of the very young in a way I found irresistible. If she were before me right now, I’d make a pass at her and then pay her way through college (regardless of how she responded).

For these two reasons, extraordinary story and extraordinary characters, five stars.

I don’t mean to suggest that Bellica is without flaws. The writing quality is only a little above average in terms of word-smithing and the song of prose. I felt the whole book could use another pass through of proofreading and copy editing. The central tragic flaw in Empress Zardria was not entirely believable, or was not presented sufficiently early in the book to make it so. I also felt the story ended a bit too abruptly after the climax and a little more could have been added to wind down and tie off loose ends.

But no book is without flaws. This one still gets the highest rating I can give it.
Profile Image for Eva van Loon.
43 reviews4 followers
January 19, 2012
I loved this huge book for two reasons: the characters are people I want to follow and the book is rich with possibilities for more story.
Well, okay, one more reason: the women are feisty and the men are lovable. I feel safe in Zarqon, yet energised and brave even in the face of dark odds!
Bellica Yarrow is a child of light although her career as a general has plenty of dark moments. Her sister, the heir apparent Zardria, however, once was offered a deal she could not refuse, a deal involving Umbra, goddess of darkness. Now the dance of history brings them close to each other--too close for comfort.
Against this epic background not only Yarrow and Zardria but a wild melange of their friends, enemies and companions enact the loves and struggles of their lives. Think *BSG*, *Friends* and *House* on steroids.
The author began work on this foundation novel thirteen years ago--at the age of twelve! *Bellica* is a well seasoned, well reasoned tale capable of spawning many more books about the folks we come to love and hate in these pages. Look for much more excitement from this emerging author.
One flaw, though--no dogs! Maybe in another book? (Okay, okay...so I'm a dog nut....)
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 8 books28 followers
March 16, 2013
This book is huge! At first, I found it daunting. But as I read further into it, I realized that the plot, characters, and the setting were well-developed and had depth. With plenty of action, romance, and intrigue mixed with fantasy and a different society, Bellica can best be categorized with one word: epic.
Profile Image for Sarah Bird.
8 reviews
February 6, 2013
Awesome! It took me a bit to get into it, but then I was hooked and couldn't put it down. I can't wait to find out what happens to these characters in the next book. Definitely a must to buy.
Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews

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