The Black Dogs are on the hunt, but who is their prey?
When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps fairest Lady Gleamdren, the Bard Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission...and a race against his rival for Gleamdren's favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.
But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren's rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?
Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the TALES OF GOLDSTONE WOOD, which currently includes seven novels and two novellas, with plenty more works due to release over the next few years. Her novels HEARTLESS, VEILED ROSE, and DRAGONWITCH have each been honored with a Christy Award, and STARFLOWER was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.
LOVED this book!! Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s novels just keep getting better! I’ve loved all of her books from Tales of Goldstone Wood, but Starflower is definitely an all-time favorite!
Starflower/Imraldera’s story was a fascinating one. –As was Bard Eanrin’s. What a delightful tale! With cat-men, possessive rivers, dragonwitches, and brave young mortal maidens, this story drew me in. Starflower, and others, Heartless, Veiled Rose, and Moonblood, have a captivating quality. A moon named Hymlume. Faerie kings and queens. Tiny, charming, merry folk. The One Who Names Them. Ah! How fascinating!
Starflower, with its thrilling tales of fantasy and mystic, with its gentle love stories, with its ever-present allegory telling us of the boundless love of our Lord. Starflower … a novel not to be missed!
Anne Elisabeth Stengl did it again. She made characters that had flaws that you couldn't help but fall in love with. I think that Starflower is my favorite of the series so far. This probably stems from the fact that Eanrin and Imraldera are such wonderful and (like everyone in the books) well rounded characters. I'm beginning to get accustomed to the heart wrenching details of this series, and to my horror, I enjoy it.
Take Imraldera's past, for example. As it unfolds, you feel the pain. Seriously, this series is ruining me. Now whenever I read other books, my already thin patience for their first world problems shatter. When reading about Sun Eagle, I had to walk away and take a break. I couldn't help it- the unfamiliar sympathy for character's in books snuck up and tackled my firm resolve!
It didn't really help. When I came back, the story was still the same. I take comfort in the fact that Stengl never has details or characters in her books that don't eventually make a reappearance and majorly contribute to a book. This, combined with that scene in Moonblood gives me expectation. Don't fear, Sun Eagle! Stengl hears you! ^If you read the book, you get it. Which brings me to another thing: How does Stengl always allude to the upcoming books in the earlier books? Seriously, did the woman sit down and make a timeline before writing anything? How did she know every detail and every person (complete with past) that she was going to incorporate? HOW???
Stop questioning the chieftain.
The message of this book was so real and powerful! I love it. I slept with the precious next to me, so that in the morning I could just pick it up and continue. More! It's time for more! Onward to Dragonwitch!
As if I wasn't looking forward to another installment to the Tales of Goldstone Wood series enough, when I discovered that Eanrin was one of the main characters in Starflower, my patience was even thinner as I waited. Eanrin has been my favorite character throughout the series. He's arrogant and selfish, which would make you think I'd dislike him, but that's not the case. I've discovered through my reading that arrogant men hold a special place in my reading heart....as long as their heart of gold shines through. Eanrin's definitely shines through! He's an immortal human/cat. Sometimes he's human, sometimes cat. I found myself snickering quite often at parts including him in both of his forms.Eanrin is also completely blind in the first three books(I can't remember now if he even played a part in Veiled Rose or not). In Starflower, we get to go back to a time when he has eyesight.
Despite my love for Eanrin, though, Starflower was the one who won me over in this story. She's the strong, silent type. While she's had a hard life, love still shines through. She comes from a land where women are worthless, with the exception of providing male heirs to the men. I got a strong Native American vibe from Starflower and her land. If I wasn't supposed to get that vibe, just let me live in blissful ignorance! This particular aspect of the story especially thrilled my reading heart. Do you know how difficult it is to find great, clean Native American fantasy stories?! Extremely! (Feel free to leave me suggestions in this area.)
Starflower can be read as a standalone, but PLEASE don't! I can't recommend to you enough to read this series in order. You simply can't get a full appreciation for the characters or the brilliance of writing when read out of order. All the little details come together perfectly. It's time for a re-read of the whole series for me, because there were characters that I couldn't quite place exactly. I did get a little confused at times. While I did recognize everyone, I couldn't remember what part some of them played in the earlier books. That's something else that I love about this series, though. You will want to read them over and over. I can't imagine how many extra little moments I'll find special the next time I read them.
This series has it's allegory moments. I've finally learned to accept that I'm simply not comfortable with Christian allegories. It's not so overwhelming in this particular series that I can't ignore those moments, though. I read this book as a great fantasy and nothing else. Hopefully, that doesn't offend anyone! ;)
Overall, as all my regulars around here should already know, this whole series gets a HIGHLY recommended from me!
“You’ve never loved anyone but yourself all your life!” –Starflower
Starflower is Anne Stengl’s fourth book in her Tales of Goldstone Wood Saga. It is a prequel and takes place about 1600 years before Heartless. As always the messages in Anne’s story are profound and convicting. As we watch Starflower we learn the power of true love and seeing people through the eyes of the Creator to know their true names.
Eanrin, 1600 years younger then we last saw him, is selfish to the core. But as the novel progresses we see him transform into the hero we all love and adore in previous books. It's impossible not to cheer for him as he realizes the purpose of life.
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” –Matthew 16:25, NKJ
With Anne’s incredible talent, a story is told here that will have you laughing hysterically one moment and then sobbing the next. (I know this, because it happened to me.)
Starflower has a bunch of humor in it; with Eanrin as a main character it’s impossible not to be funny. But as the book goes on the light-hearted feel fades as Eanrin begins to realize the consequences of everything happening and what it will mean to him and the person he has dared to love.
Starflower has zero language, but of course the climax is pretty heavily intense. But this time, the bad guy of the tale isn’t pursing the heroine with spiritual lust. No, this time, the bad-guy’s intent includes physical lust, but I assure you, he gets no further then intent. So just for those of you who don’t know, The Tales of Goldstone Wood are clean.
This book was incredible, and I think, my favorite of Goldstone Wood. There are so many wonderful parallels to Scripture. 1 Corinthians 13 goes beautifully with this book.
I encourage you to read Starflower. It certainly uplifted and encouraged me. And I CAN NOT wait for Book 5, Dragonwitch, coming Summer 2013!
“And now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” –1 Corinthians 13:13, NKJ
This book caught me by the heart and refused to let go. I started it, excited to read another book from the Tales of Goldstone Wood, and instantly became so entangled in the lives of the characters that I had a hard time setting the book aside, even to do ordinary things like eat and sleep.
Starflower is the fourth book released in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, though it takes place more than sixteen hundred years before the others.
Anne Elisabeth Stengl's writing style is absolutely beautiful. There is an almost lyrical quality to her phraseology and her word choice paints a vivid picture in the reader's mind.
Her world is deep and complex, with histories and legends all its own, as if it truly has existed for centuries, rather than being the offspring of pen and ink.
But even more than the beauty of the writing style, even more than the depth of the world, the characters of Starflower gripped me by the hand and pulled me relentlessly after them, until I walked the paths of the Wood Between beside them.
Eanrin the bard, Prince of poets, immortal faerie, the man who is a cat, and the cat who is a man.
Starflower, the maid, cursed but unbroken, silenced but not enslaved.
Hri Sora, the dragon-witch, embittered, enflamed, soul bent upon destruction.
From the start, Eanrin wormed his way into my heart. He is so wholly cat-like, even in human form. Conceited, aye, as all cats are. As if the worlds were created for his pleasure, and all peoples and creatures made to love him while he is free to disdain everyone and everything.
Starflower is the complete opposite. Made strong in her weaknesses by a love and a selflessness that even her cursed tongue cannot hold back.
I fell in love with both Eanrin and Starflower and in truth, though the book was over three hundred pages, it felt far too short to do them justice. Not that the book itself was a bad length, but I would gladly have read more of Eanrin and Starflower.
I highly recommend Starflower to all lovers of fantasy and especially fairy tales. Even those who haven't read the previous books in the Tales of Goldstone Wood will find Starflower an enthralling read. For though the books build upon one another, they are not dependent upon each other.
Starflower left me eagerly awaiting the release of the next book in the series, Dragonwitch, coming Summer 2013!
Note: Thanks to Ms. Stengl and Bethany House Publishing for the chance to review a free copy of this book! The thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.
There's no denying the fact that this book spoke to me. I was legitimately moved at times.
. . . And yet, there's a still a barrier that stands between me and this series.
- EANRINNNNN. C'mon, you saw this coming. But SERIOUSLY THOUGH. Eanrin is absolutely precious and he breaks/melts/warms my heart all at once. His journey in this book was hands-down what moved me the most. His was a story of fear and love and finding out how to live. EXCUSE ME WHILE I COLLAPSE FROM THE BEAUTY. Eanrin is officially Mine and I refuse to admit otherwise. (Okay, I'll share him with Imraldera . . . because she's pretty awesome.)
- Starflower/Imraldera. Ahhhhh yes. She was pretty fabulous. I liked her from what little I saw in the previous books and was so pumped to see her as one of the main characters in this. She did not disappoint. I really did enjoy her story and admired her for her sacrificial love and strength.
- OKAY BUT EANRIN + IMRALDERA TOGETHER ARE THE CUTEST. I'm sorryyyyyy. I just love these two so much and if they don't become a Thing, I will be very unhappy.
- The themes. The themes were strong with this book, guys. For whatever reason . . . I needed to hear them. I needed to be reminded of the One Who Names. I needed to hear about love that takes our fear and turns it to trust. This book did indeed speak to me, and I needed to hear these things NOW at this period of my life. (ALSO EANRIN'S JOURNEY IN THIS BOOK IS SO AMAZING LET US REITERATE THIS)
- The writing/storyworld. Personally, I don't click with it (more on that below), but there's no use denying the fact that Ms. Stengl has a gift with words. Her writing style is lovely . . . just not my thing. And the world? It's VERY unique and well-constructed . . . but again, not my thing.
- The writing LOL YEP. This is the same thing I listed above. I honestly CAN'T connect to this world. I just can't. It's like there's a wall separating me from Goldstone Wood. The writing style, while lovely, does not click with me. It feels distant - like it's just painting a picture that's nice to look at . . . but it's not one that I can actually feel like I'm a part of. I don't lose myself in the story or feel like I'm the character. And THAT is what's missing for me. And while we're at it, the writing style feels very "vague" and overly symbolic, if that makes any sense. Like LITERALLY EVERYTHING is symbolic. It kind of drives me crazy. I just want things to be REAL. I appreciate the use of symbolism . . . but my brain can only handle so much before it's a puddle of confusion and frustration. (No idea why it bothers me so much. I guess allegories aren't usually my Thing, for the most part.)
- The storyworld. This is honestly tied in closely to my last point. The whole world is so symbolic and feels kind of "unreal" to me the whole time I'm reading it. I don't know . . . I just don't feel like I belong in this storyworld so I can't connect with it. *shrugs*
- It's, uh, boring?? I'M SORRY. For all its many attractions, this book made me super bored at times. I kind of dreaded reading it sometimes. xD
- The Dragonwitch. So . . . yeah. I get that she's a villain, but I just hated being in her POV. She felt like a whiny, petulant child. SOWWY. :P
WELL THEN. There's my overly-long braindump for the day. I'm truly glad I read this book - because like I said, it SPOKE to me - but I think I've arrived at the conclusion that I'm done with this series. Maybe someday far in the future, I'll continue it; but the only thing I care to know really is WHAT HAPPENS TO EANRIN AND IMRALDERA. (I'm open for spoilers, actually, if anyone wants to share . . . lol.) But I'm done with this series now, and maybe, forever. It's a fitting book to end on, I think, because it really did touch my heart in a way that none of the past books did. I'm truly glad I read it. The writing style and world just DON'T mesh well with me . . . so I think it's time I stopped trying to make myself love it.
Did I say I liked Lionheart and Rose best? No... No, I don't think so...
All right, so maybe I did, but Starflower and especially Eanrin snagged my heart in this latest tale of Goldstone Wood. I fell in love with the cat-poet, his feline ways and his foolishness and his deathly fear of the Hound who ever pursues him. He was more than just a laugh (although he is certainly that); he is full of personality and you cannot help but be invested in him. Since Starflower is mute, she was rather harder for me to get to know; but her narration in the second part of the book won me to her.
Veiled Rose still stands, I believe, as my favorite "Tale," perhaps because it was the first I read. But Starflower is very near that rank. The themes - of the true name reflecting a thing's true nature; of the freedom in servanthood to Christ; of the Hound, borrowed from Francis Thompson's poem - captured me, they were so vivid. The twists of plot, the cast of characters, the never knowing exactly who a person was, enthralled me. This novel revealed much about the characters who appear, frequently and infrequently, in the other books; and it left me wanting to know more.
If quality is to be measured in terms of interest and fascination — if literary merit reveals itself through invested emotion (tears in several cases) and a desire to go on reading a story forever — then I think Starflower could truthfully be called best and most beautiful of Stengl's Tales of Goldstone Wood. I'd looked forward to reading it for some time, and Stengl did not disappoint. She provides plenty of familiar faces from the start, as well as some new ones, and after I passed the fifty-page mark or so, I flew through the story.
There are timeless messages here, woven dexterously through a fantasy setting in a way that only serves to enhance them. More than anything, this is a story about Eanrin, chief bard of Rudiobus, and the Hound of Heaven that he cannot elude. Though he rescues Maid Starflower from an enchanted sleep, it is the mortal girl of surprising strength who unconsciously prompts the poet-cat's transformation as he learns what it means to love. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to live in his head and see the story through his eyes, an experience unique to this book. (Not to mention that Eanrin's and Imraldera's slowly blooming relationship was one of my favorite parts of the story). Starflower centers on the concept of freedom: the freedom to speak for oneself, the freedom of knowing a person's true name and purpose, and overarching all of this, the true freedom that can only come through bondage in Christ. It is a story of light and beauty in the midst of bleak desperation and so engaging that I didn't want to put it down or see it end. Read it: you will not regret it.
(Post script: I broke the mold in some respects by reading this fourth book in the series after reading books five and six. Knowing these later endings brought up a few spoilers, but somehow, it worked. I'd still recommend reading these novels in order for maximum understanding and enjoyment.)
Wow!!!!!!Wow!!!!!!Wow!!!!!!Wow!!!!!Amazing!!!! I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!! The main characters are Eanrin and Starflower. When Eanrin goes on an adventure to save his love, things start happening both bad and good. Starflower has always been cursed, she finds a certain cat that changes things in life. OK sorry that this review is so horrid I just can not write, but this book is so worth reading. I think people ages 12 and up can read this, depending on what they can handle. There is not anything I don't like about this book. There is always scenes in books that drag on for a little while, but this book had hardly any parts that dragged on. I LOVED IT. I WOULD RATE IT ONE HUNDRED STARS IF I COULD. Every one should read this. God bless you Anne Elisabeth. and keep writing. :) :) :) :) :)
Starflower continues Anne Elisabeth Stengl's winning streak. Her Tales of Goldstone Wood are consistently good and this one is no exception, blending fairy tale, allegory, classic lit and modern storytelling into one absorbing, epic tale. I particularly enjoyed the tribal setting of the far past of Stengl's Southland - it lent a unique flavour to the story. Also thoroughly appreciated the Hound of Heaven references. I did think the religious allegory could have been a little more subtle, or something. Also I thought this one had a darker, more mature (OK, downright creepy) threat for our heroine to face and therefore the book might not be as appropriate for very young readers as the first 3 books were.
In any case, a great read and thoroughly recommended.
This had to have been my favorite of the series so far. I absolutely loved it. The imagery is amazing, the setting so detailed, and the characters are a hilarious. I could barely put this book down for wanting to know what would happen next.
Like a lot of fans, I absolutely love Sir Eanrin and was so glad to find out that he would be a main character in this story. Usually I don't like cats, but he is an exception. :)
Rescuing a princess can be a relatively thankless task. Especially when the Princess is rather a stuck-up snot. Nearly insurmountable perils await those who brave dire difficulties, precarious pinnacles and plummeting waterfalls not to mention dungeons of death. Two hearty gentlemen, one characterized by a lyrical tomcat, the other by a bustling officious badger undertake just such a risky proposition. But along the way, the tomcat fellow rescues a young maiden of deep tribal heritage who really does have a heart of gold and is able to listen to her creator… This volume goes back in time to explore some roots which become heritage and give depth and historical perspective to the Goldstone Wood series.
I get precious little time actually read on my Kindle. My busy life tends toward audiobooks. But when I do, the Goldstone Wood is a worthwhile investment. I’ve been greatly inspired by the fortitude of these characters and I trust the author to lead me through the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” and many difficult emotional wrestling’s in such a way that I shall be motivated to love and good deeds. Top-notch fantasy fiction!
Thus I continued my exploration of "The Tales of Goldstone Wood" series in "Starflower". This book was amazing, and intense and moving. I loved it! Honestly, each of Anne Elisabeth's new novels keeps reaching new heights of wonderfulness, beauty, and strength. I enjoyed reading Imraldra's story. . . the character Starflower is another new favourite; I truly routed for her struggles and journey, and loved the way she looked out for her young sister (I have a dear younger sister too, so I knew just how she must have felt). The theme of redemption in this story, portrayed by the work of the Hound was one of the things that inspired me deeply in "Starflower". And I loved Eanrin more than I ever did, if that is even possible ^_^.
I can't even begin to say how much I loved this book! The characters are simply amazing, the story-line so pure. The author is so clever at weaving the words together, especially with Starflower's background.
Finally! My opportunity to share my thoughts on this book!
STARFLOWER by Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the Goldstone Woods series prequel that I devoured in nearly a single sitting. (After-which I immediately went about acquiring paperback copies of the rest this stellar, and still on-going, high fantasy series.) It’s a beautifully written story that sweeps across vast lands unlike anything we can imagine in our time – involving daring adventure, enchanting dragons, fated love and a eclectic cast of characters you can easily fall in love with yourself. I will easily recommend this series to fans of either Narnia or The Lord of the Rings.
Although sprinkled throughout with slightly religious undertones, even the non-religious will enjoy STARFLOWER. I can say that I am one of those non-religious readers who found it to be quite a thrilling read – and not just a church sermon in book form. The religious themes are not “preached” to the reader, they are simply the “inspiration”. For example, as Aslan was the omnipotent force within Narnia or the White Wizard was the Resurrected One in Lord of the Rings, this series also has a similar authoritative figure. The topic of Christianity in fiction is explained rather well in Anne’s blog tour post over at Pieces of Whimsy.
All serious matters of the book aside, STARFLOWER is as pleasurable as it is engrossing. I adored every scene in which the cat poet, Eanrin, made an appearance. But why is it that every time I read about him, I immediately thought of Flynn Rider? Oh yeah, its probably because he is equally as dashing and hilarious as the ever-so-humble *snort* thief.
The author infuses as much hilarity into her story as she does adventure – mostly thanks to Eanrin. I enjoyed his interactions with Starflower as well as with nearly everyone else he encounters in their journey. In fact, A great deal of the reason why I want to read more of the series was because I want more Eanrin.
My only complaint is that I am STILL working on reading many of the names correctly. Ah, fantasy novels… Thou has-est gorgeous names-eth. If only I sounded so regal in my head as I read them on the page.
The Tales of Goldstone Woods series is classic high fantasy at its best, so I cannot emphasize enough just how much I recommend it to fantasy fans everywhere. You can start the series with either STARFLOWER or HEARTLESS. Or you could even read STARFLOWER as a stand-alone novel. Though much like Lay’s potato chips, once you have had a taste of this series, I’ll bet you won’t be able to stop with just one.
(For a more detailed review, see the full post.) It's not often that I get nervous writing a book review, but this one has left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. I want to do it justice. I'm not sure I can say enough positive things about this book, which is, in my opinion, allegorical fantasy at its best.
When a simple girl is led into the world of immortals, we fall into a story I can best describe as a cross between Alice in Wonderland and the Chronicles of Narnia. It's a world where rivers and trees come alive, where animals talk and faeries change from human to animal form. The setting, the character development, the dialogue--all absolutely brilliant. I was in that world with our heroine and the egocentric cat-man that gets caught up in her plight, and I couldn't close the cover until I'd discovered how these funny, very human (but somehow not) characters resolved the grand plot.
All the elements of classic fantasy unfold as good and evil battle for the kingdom of men, but the deeper threads of this story present themselves as the characters each decide which side to fight for. As is common to man in the real world as well, the choice isn't always clear, and those presenting the choices can't always be trusted.
There were life lessons woven throughout this story, themes of love, friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in Christian fantasy fiction.
Warning: I was a little mixed up for the first few chapters, as the many characters were introduced and their personalities came alive. If you have a hard time at first, I think this is on purpose, so stick with it! And don't let the complicated names throw you off!
PARENTAL RATING: PG. Some of the bad guys are really bad guys, and while no heavy violence is described, we must remember that we are dealing with a destructive, fire-breathing dragon intent on revenge, and various minions who could be scary for younger children. The sensuality that is often present in fantasy fiction isn't a worry with this book. The worst of it was vague allusions to the antagonist's desire for a young maiden, which were so vague that they would fly over the head of most younger teens. Both my girls have total green light to read this one ASAP--I'm already sure they'll love it!
**This book was provided to me by NetGalley.com in exchange for my honest review.
I am thoroughly enjoying reading through the Tales of Goldstone Woods series. Starflower, book 4, held up well in comparison with the first three. Though my favorite is still Heartless, this one might be my second favorite. One of my favorite characters in the series is Sir Eanrin, and it was great to see him as a main character instead of just a supporting role. His inner struggle between choosing to serve the One Who Names Them, or to serve himself, really rang true with me, and was definitely thought-provoking. It seems like the books in the series are increasingly becoming more creepy, featuring terrible villains and horrific settings. Sensitive readers might choose not to read this series, and younger readers might want to wait till their older (I wouldn't suggest reading them right before bed). All in all, this series is turning out beautifully. (And dare I might add...could rival Narnia?)
Content ratings contain some spoilers:
Violence/Graphic Content: 8.5/10 (sacrifices, blood, wounds, attacks by animals. A lot of ritual harm, as the culture Starflower comes from is similar to a Druid-like cult.) Language: 1/10 (made up phrases like 'dragon's teeth') Sexual Content: 4/10 (River described as lecherous, lascivious. Wolf Tongue claims to be 'in love' with Starflower, but it is really more of carnal lust. A few kisses. Some insinuations to sexual activity, but it isn't spelled out.)
Once again author Anne Elisabeth Stengl delivers a beautiful fantasy novel intertwined with the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. She seamlessly weaves fairytale properties - a bit of Rapunzel? the age-old story of beauty and the beast? - into the fabric of a Christian mind. The characters of STARFLOWER are torn by and from their lives into the adventure of a lifetime, struggling to save each other, struggling to save themselves, and all the while their paths are determined and pursued by an ethereal, unrelenting Hound bent on reshaping them into creatures that know Love. This is a book to set the heart-strings thrumming.
Absolutely breathtaking artistry in such a young author! I am so grateful that I was able to see a galley version before the big release. Each of these books is better than the one before. I cannot recommend the series highly enough.
So far this is my favorite of the series; it takes a break from the current story line of Lionheart and Rose Red to go back in time to the origins of the story of Starflower, thus showing how Imraldera and Eanrin became knights of Farthestshore. Since those two have quickly become my favorite minor characters of the series, it was delightful to see them get a story in their own right, even if it takes place centuries before the rest of the series. Of all of them thus far, this book stands on its own the best (largely in part because the first three overlap significantly as they build on each other). I'm hoping for more of Eanrin and Imeraldera's story to be told in the future!
It took me an unholy amount of time to read this, but nonetheless I really enjoyed it! Eanrin is my absolute favorite Goldstone Wood character so far, and this book includes my Goldstone Wood OTP 😍 (so far, that is... who knows what later books might have in store XD)
AND THAT CLIMAX. THE ENDING IN GENERAL. MY HEART IS STILL BURSTING WITH FEELS. ACK. *clutches heart*
When I received this book in the mail, I was so excited that I had to restrain myself from tearing into it right away. It held promise of all the aspects I enjoy in a novel: adventure, far-off lands, mystery and wonder, and a dash of the fairy-tale and romance.
And Starflower brought it all, as well as its own unique flavour. While not boring by any means, the story is not driven by action. Instead, it delves into character--not simply the beings, whether mortal or Faerie, but the very lands in which they dwell, as well. One could practically smell the lushness of the jungle-type atmosphere Starflower grows up in; the Merry Halls of Rudiobus become ingrained in one's mind. And the fallen city of Etalpalli IS a character--a very wrathful, dangerous creature. The way Stengl wrote the scenes in which the very streets do not stay still.... it gave me shivers.
And if you're the type of reader who wants action in a novel, well, it's definitely here. Whether it's facing demonic wolves, running from a giant hound, or leaping off bridges, there is something there for everyone. But the action is not the sort that precedes and overwhelms the substance. Starflower is a novel to be savoured for the layers it weaves. Eanrin's quest--and Starflower's--are treated as tiny pieces of a much larger puzzle. Even when the book ends, the story is not finished.
That being said, while this novel is the fourth in the series, "The Tales of Goldstone Wood", it is a prequel to all the other books, and can therefore be read as a standalone. I had only read the first in the series, Heartless, and I was not only able to follow this book quite well, but its characters are even more deeply embedded in my heart than those of Heartless! Eanrin and Starflower--also called Imraldera--are two of my favourite fictional characters of all time.
Imraldera, for me, is like the True Pocahontas. Disney's version of the courageous Native American princess always bothers me with its inaccuracies. Starflower is much how I picture the real life Pocahontas--not so much character-wise, per se, but in their essence: faith, beauty, love and strength all bound into one--and the courage to face the past of their people and embrace the good there while rejecting the bad.
And the minor characters--not to mention the villain--capture your heart and pique your interest. Hri Sora, one of the main villains, is complex in that one moment you hate her, and the next you feel such pity that you wonder how such a pathetic woman could ever be an actual villain. Glomar, Eanrin's rival, and Gleamdren, Eanrin's 'love,' are equally vibrant. While Gleamdren is loud and obnoxious at the best of times, there are scenes where she is actually clever and tolerable, and one is able to see what she could be. And that, seeing people for who they might be, is a major theme in this novel.
If you couldn't already tell, I loved this story to pieces. I could ramble on and on about its themes, but that's something every reader should discover for themselves.
One thing I must say is that the novel was far too short for my liking. I wanted Eanrin and Starflower's journey to be longer, for more time with them and the world they live in. As well, there was one part that I couldn't quite make sense of, but I'm sure the following books will help shed light into the matter.
That's the beauty of this series--it's so intricately connected, with little things in one book meaning much more than they seem! I can't wait to read more of this series--look out for the upcoming Dragonwitch this summer, and Shadow Hand to be released early 2014!
As usual with Anne Elisabeth Stengl and her books, this was an absolute 5 star read for me. This has absolutely become one of my favorite series.
I love the atmosphere of these books and the way that Stengl uses traditional fairy tale elements as well as classic works and native mythologies to weave her tales. For instance, within this book, there is a maiden kidnapped by a dragon and imprisoned in a high tower as well as a maiden being awakened with a kiss from an enchanted sleep, and these are elements found in many classic fairy tale stories. Also, the characters travel to locations within the book that resemble settings contained within the pages of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book and settings that resemble the ruins of the ancient Mayan/Aztec civilizations, which allows Stengl to add layers of complexity to her novel. I, personally, greatly enjoyed discovering all these allusions and understanding how they affected this story by making it more complex and thought-provoking.
Another one of the things I love about this series is the unique characters that Stengl is able to create. Some of my favorites in this book are Eanrin and Starflower/Imraldera. Eanrin is a citizen of the fairy nation of Rudiobus and serves as the chief bard and poet of the king's court as well as having the ability to transform into a fluffy orange cat. These are not spoilers if one has read the first three books within this series. Anyway, I loved the comic relief he adds to the narrative of the story and I enjoyed learning about his journey to become one of the Knights of Farthest Shore, which one would, again, know that he is if one has read the previous books in the series. Starflower/Imraldera is the main character of this narrative, and is by far its most complex. She is a young dark-skinned girl with wild, tangled hair without the ability to create sounds other than whimpers and squeaks, and she communicates through sign language. At the start of this book, she is running from some unknown evil, and, throughout the book, we slowly learn about her past and what she is running from. Her character development and journey in this book is captivating and thought-provoking, and I enjoy following her through her many trails and tribulations as it made for hours of intense, enjoyable reading time.
Finally, I loved the themes that are within this book, themes of friendship, honor, and loyalty. They reminded me of themes contained in another one of my favorite series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Actually, there are a lot of similarities between the two series and if an individual has read The Chronicles of Narnia and enjoyed them, they would, probably, greatly enjoy this series as well. Also, this book has been connected to The Lord of the Rings, probably because of the two series' similar themes. I also enjoy The Lord of the Rings so this could be another reason why Stengl's series has become one of my favorites. Whatever the case, I devoured this book and the others in this series. I am also looking forward to reading the rest of series.
I have to say, I can't decide what part of this book I like the best. It's a three-way tie between the plot, the characters, or the character development! But whichever of the three does eventually win, this book was an amazing read I'd definitely recommend to any lover of fantasy.
The book starts off meeting Eanrin, the conceited and imminently dislike able fae. Through a series of events - caused by Eanrin's ego - Lady Gleamdren, off whom Eanrin and Glomar the Guard are both pining after, is (intentionally) kidnapped by a dewinged dragon-witch, Hri Sora. Eanrin and Glomar set out to rescue the Lady Gleamdren, but cashing personalities lead them to split ways. Along his journey, Eanrin finds a woman, whom he calls Imraldera, but whose name is truly Starflower, asleep and being dragged into the river, causing his first truly empathetic act of the book: saving her.
Surprisingly, the plot on the back actually takes a lesser role in the actual book. Half-way through, the perspective of the book is switched and you start to learn of Starflower's mysterious past. The amazingly written story makes the book many times better.
Eanrin was an amazing character, prior to my first impression. His character growth was one of the main enjoyments of this book for myself. Looking at him on the first chapter of the book compared to the last, the character development is astounding. However, when reading the book, his change is gradual. plus, his moments with Starflower were to cute.
And then there was Starflower, the mute girl with a mysterious past, and whose back story was tear worthy. This amazing character captured my heart even before she had a chance to speak. And her amazing choices and sacrifices had me crying. Hard.
The other amazing characters in this book, including Lady Gleamdren, Glomar, and most importantly, Hri Sora, were all also so amazing, from the bitter Dragon-witch, to the goodhearted guard, and finally to the vain Lady.
I do not know how this author is in continuity in her books, seeing as I have not had the chance to read her other books, but I very much hope that Eanrin and Imraldera's story is revisited in her future books. The ending of Starflower left me wanting to know so much more!
All in all, this was an amazing book, full of action, romance, and amazing character growth. I would recommend this to any fantasy lover looking for a good read.
Eanrin has always known to never get involved in the affairs of mortals. If all Faeries had that policy, the Hidden Land would have lived out a happier story. But as the lost daughter of the Eldest walked a road darkened by Faerie, so her path will fatefully cross a Faerie’s again. And again.
In Starflower, Anne Elisabeth Stengl tells the story of Faeries who became involved with mortals, and mortals who became involved with Faeries. Not all were the better for it; nor were all the worst.
Starflower is sold as a fairy tale, and indeed it is. Pieces and elements from all sorts of fairy tales swirl in it – refined, changed, and woven together into a new whole. A few of the old tropes are played for humor – the lady in the tower, princes turned to frogs. Most are used more seriously – enchantments, fairies, shape-changing, dragons.
One of Stengl’s most effective uses is of the law of Faerie. Everyone who has read fairy tales knows that Faerie has its laws, just as immutable as nature’s. In Faerie blessings are true, and curses are facts; vows must be kept, and names have power. Anne Elisabeth Stengl takes this strange code, builds it as surely into her world as the law of gravity, and lets the story flow in its courses.
The Faerie characters are realized in the uniqueness of their nature and experience. But different as they are, they are not wholly alien, and readers can understand them like people. The humans in the story are just as finely done. Stengl handles her cast with great sympathy, making flawed characters likeable and villains pitiable.
The world – or worlds, I could say – of Starflower beat with life. Some are grim, some are beautiful, some are treacherous, most are dangerous – but all are alive. You can almost feel the hot streets of Etalpalli, the humid swamp, the stony way to the Place of the Teeth.
There is very little to criticize in this book. The most I can say is that I did not understand Starflower’s sudden distrust of the poet, nor did I consider it believable. In all its main elements, Starflower excelled. It is beautifully written, a pleasure to read. The spiritual strains in the story were profound and moving. The story was unexpected, and landscapes and people rose up brilliantly from the pages. This book was a surprise to me. I had expected it to be good, but I didn’t think it would be incredible.
Oh. My. Goodness. How have I not heard of this series yet?! How has it not crossed my path until now? This book was massively overflowing with wondrous magical beauty. I can say without a doubt that this book rivals any Faerie story that I have read to date, easily.
I did not head into this book with high expectations. But before long I was completely blown away. I am at awe at how beautifully this story is written, no, woven sounds like a much better word. Because it's more like a masterpiece than anything else. Can you tell that I loved it?! Seriously though, if you haven't read this book yet, or were completely unaware of this series existence, like myself. You need to get your hands on this right now. All fantasy fans everywhere, read this, pronto, immediately.
This is book #4 in the series, but I read it without feeling like I was missing any details. I am thinking that the stories aren't completely related to each other. But I assure you I that I will be getting out there and reading the previous three installments as soon as I can. I have found a brand new author that I simply adore. Her writing carried me away into this amazing fantastical, and terrifying, stunning world. I was so sad when I closed the last pages because I was just not ready to go.
The characters in the story were all so incredibly developed. I gushed to my husband repeatedly with quotes from the book, and the incredible descriptiveness, immensely vivid imagery, and the characters within that I just could not get enough of. It was also such a fun read because it was like watching this awesome puzzle come together. We were given all these pieces of information and events that were seemingly unrelated. But as the story came together and all the pieces connected, it made the story that much more epic. Anne really has created a story to be loved by all.
I will be looking for more books by her, and definitely be wanting to read the rest of this series. Thank you so much to Anne for sending me her story. It's cast a spell on me and I've completely fallen in love. To all of you, I say again, go read this book. It's a must for any and all readers.
Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl is yet another novel from the Goldstone Wood Series filled with unique voices and humorous characters.
They say to create a great piece of writing you must read a variety of genres. Stengl inserts some Native American flavor into these stories as we hear about some of the characters from Veiled Rose and Moonblood like the boy who got lost on the Paths and Imeralda. We also learn more about Earin, the cat-man.
The story is less about Earin and more about Imeralda–also known as Starflower. Starflower is from the Hidden Lands where women literally do not have a voice. They use sign language to speak to each other and men view them as property. Earin finds Starflower in an enchanted sleep next to a magical river.
Earin is a cat and a man. He is a silly poet in love with Queen Bobos cousin, Gleamdren. Gleamdren is a shallow and vain girl who lets herself get kidnapped by Hri Sora, a dragon, who used to be Etalpali–a great queen whose hatred turned her into Dark Father’s daughter.
The Dark Father strips her of her dragon form and her wings. Hri stands in human form bearing the power of her dragon’s fire in a frail human body. Hri is mother to the Black Dogs–her neglected children who know only hate until Starflower.
The Black Dogs do Hri’s bidding and are known for dragging people to death’s dark waters. The lesson Stengl reveals between the Black Dogs and Starflower is how persistant love and courage can change someone who has only known hate and abuse.
Starflower succeeds where Earin fails in bringing Gleamdren to safety, but only after Starflower makes a bargain. Starflower must face the past she ran from in order to free her people from the bondage of a deviate faerie lord once married to Hri. Hri wants Amarok dead. Starflower is not alone. Earin accompanies her and faces the danger with Starflower. Overall, Stengl’s novel, Starflower is just as good as the rest of her novels in the Goldstone Wood series and I rated it five stars. There is a good reason why Stengl won the Christy Award twice.