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Ærenden #3

Aerenden: The Zeiihbu Master

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Separated and on opposite sides of the kingdom, Nick and Meaghan face different pursuits which could change the balance of power in Ærenden forever.

While Nick trains the villagers to be soldiers, Meaghan and a small rescue party venture into Zeiihbu to find Faillen's young son, before Garon can use the boy's power to destroy those still fighting against his rule.

Everyone knows Meaghan could be on a suicide mission, but when Nick stumbles upon a secret concealed in one of the southern villages, he realizes that Garon might not be Meaghan's greatest foe. The enemy most likely to kill her is someone who has also promised to keep her safe.

482 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

Kristen Taber

5 books107 followers
Kristen spent her childhood at the feet of an Irish storytelling grandfather, learning to blend fact with fiction, and imagination with reality. She lived within the realm of the tales that captivated her, breathing life into characters and crafting stories even before she could read.

Those stories have since turned into over a hundred poems, several short tales, and five manuscripts in both the Young Adult and Adult genres.  Currently, Ms. Taber is completing the sixth book in the Ærenden series from her home office in the suburbs of Washington D.C.

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5 stars
31 (68%)
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6 (13%)
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5 (11%)
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3 (6%)
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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Kristen Taber.
Author 5 books107 followers
January 4, 2022
By now, you know that I don't rate or review my own books, but I do like to share tidbits about each of them when I can.

The Zeiihbu Master was my favorite book to write to date (of all of my books in both my published and unpublished series). Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed writing both The Child Returns and The Gildonae Alliance. Both books allowed me to paint wonderful backgrounds for the overall kingdom of Aerenden and our main characters. I loved getting to know my new friends and their worlds, but I didn't have the chance to delve as deeply into Aerenden's and Zeiihbu's histories until this book. I'm a huge history buff, so this was my geek-out allowance for the three weeks it took me to complete the first draft.

Some of the kingdom's history was fun to create; I love inventing new creatures and monsters. Some of it was heartbreaking. And some was rewarding. The Zeiihbuans and the people of Aerenden have fostered deep racism and prejudice between them for far too long; this book takes a step toward healing those rifts by offering common bonds that neither group expected. It was nice to add that twist, to help them rethink what they mean to each other. (But as I have a no spoilers policy, I won't speak anymore about this)

The Zeiihbu Master pulled me in so many different directions emotionally that I'm still reeling from it. I laughed at times, fell in love during others. My heart raced and I couldn't sleep while my characters remained in jeopardy. And, of course, I cried. Many, many times. I struggled with how I needed to end this leg of the story, and ultimately chose to take a risk I think some of you will love, others will probably hate, and that I feel will be most fulfilling when the series is complete. I hope you feel the same way.

In the meantime, rest assured, I always have fun interweaving elements of mystery, fighting in battles, and putting my characters in harm's way, so there's plenty of that here, too :).
Profile Image for gj indieBRAG.
1,505 reviews66 followers
March 12, 2018

We are proud to announce that AERENDEN: THE ZEIIHBU MASTER by Kristen Taber is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells readers that this book is well worth their time and money!
Profile Image for Natalie.
Author 3 books325 followers
May 6, 2014
Okay, I’m going to have to write a list to review this one. I’m also going to have to review the first 75% (rough estimation) separate from the final 25%. Why? Because this book was definitely my favourite in the series right up until a bad ending left me confused about my ultimate feelings. Maybe writing this review will clear things up.

The first 75% – the Good

Finally, Meaghan and Nick are separate! I have never clicked with Nick, and it was hugely refreshing to see Meaghan amongst a group that did not include him. She is the best character in this series, by far. She grows stronger and more assertive all the time and I really appreciated her freedom here.

I also LOVE how her feelings for Nick are handled. Obviously she loves him, but she hates how control has been taken from her and I think this was written very well.
The quality of writing remains incredibly high. The author certainly has a talent for stringing words together.

I feel like this book did a better job of reminding us that Meaghan grew up on Earth.

I liked the introduction of the Shadow Guard as an entity and while the resolution of the ‘traitor’ was fairly predictable, I appreciated the short spurt of tension.

As much as I still don’t LOVE Nick, there was a great scene between him and Aldin that certainly endeared me to him. He benefited from being separate from Meaghan too.

The first 75% – the Bad

My biggest peeve in this book, other than the ending, was Cal. Bear in mind that he was one of my favourite characters before this point. He was just so irritating. He is supposed to be a leader but he was just being dumb and over emotional all the time. Which would be fine, if he wasn’t such a superior figure. It also bugged me that he seems to have so little respect for Meaghan’s wishes. I get that he is loyal to Nick, but man…she is your Queen. This whole situation was made worse by the fact that Cal was proven right too often.

The Cal thing was really a small issue on the whole…but the main issue with these books is that I find everything is explained before the fact. The traitor situation was the first instance of any real mystery or suspense. Other than that, the characters do a lot of explaining. This world is very detailed and that is a testament to the author, but I do wish that more was revealed through action, rather than the characters telling stories. This would also bring more emotion into the read. This was more understandable in the first two books, but by now I am less forgiving of it.
Reading up, it looks like there was more bad than good but that is not the case. I really enjoyed seeing Meaghan interact with new characters, and new locations. At this point it was definitely my favourite of the three. But then…

The Ending

Eh, it was so disappointing.

These books are fairly slow paced, and that’s fine. I am happy to read a slow paced book when the quality of writing is so high. But there needs to be some pay off. I was expecting a big showdown at the end, but it was all too easy and all too quick. And the cliff-hanger just didn’t work for me because it is obviously a non-issue. Hell, it’s not even a cliffhanger for the characters in the end – which just made the ending even weaker.

This was such a shame. I am still looking forward to the final book because things will finally happen, we will finally meet Garon and see if the prophecy will come true. But the ending has certainly left me feeling disappointed. That said, this book still gets a 4/5. I was tempted to drop the rating, but perhaps the ending won’t bug others so much? The standard of writing in general is still high.
Profile Image for Nay Denise.
1,529 reviews81 followers
August 29, 2014
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review.

This was awesome. Action packed, plot twists, excitement and the whole nine yards. This was very enjoyable and I simply just had to give it a 5 star rating.

Kristen Taber can do no wrong! She has created such an outstanding masterpiece with this series that it keeps me wanting more of all characters.

I must say I am very proud of the villages. They learned to battle and did what they could with their skills which was impressive. Nick definitely did a great job ensuring that they learned all they could. He keep a positive mindset and allowed himself to uplift each and every person.

I enjoyed learning about Elana, Ed's sister from the tribe. She definitely reminded me of Ed with her strong will. She definitely respected her brother at all ends. I thought Everel was pretty harsh in his reaction to Elana, but I guess that's how he is when it comes to the tribe versus Aerenden.

Learning Cal true intentions on this misson pissed me off and that he had his brother-in-law with him as well upset me. How could he not tell Meaghan, but then say she is the closest thing to niece he has?! That's backwards.

Cadie is a very strong young man. He fought back as much as he could and endured the pain that Stilgan and his Mardrochs did. I love the fact that his people tried to help him no matter of him having a power that they see as horrible.

That ending was completely insane but the action was awesome. Meaghan definitely stood her ground against Stilgan. She definitely got stronger and wiser with combat. Cal no longer seems to be a mysterious guy to me. I feel his intentions. What he did to save Meaghan was perfect!

I need to know what happens next! If Cal is alive like Vivian predicted is Meaghan alive as well. This is what I call a delicious read!
Profile Image for Maggie Thom.
Author 18 books478 followers
June 9, 2014
I have to say I started reading book three as soon as I was done book two,that’s how intrigued and captivated I was with the story. I so wanted to know what was going to happen and where it was going to go. I have to say chapter one was very attention grabbing and had me glued. The whole book is sooooo good!

In this book the evil is building and is taking control. Those who are good are trying to fight back but are slowly being squeezed at every turn. The characters are well done. Stilghan – nasty, nasty and the Madroch – so real, they’ll scare you and keep you from wanting to look anyone in the eye for a while. Meaghan has so grown through all three books and is now thrust into the role of leader.

The suspense was so well done. Stilghan uses whatever means he needs to to bend Caide to his will. He wants to control Caide as he’s a spellmaster and he wants him to do his nasty deeds. You’re praying that Meaghan and her team can get to him in time but the tension is nerve-wracking and will keep you turning the pages. Honestly there are parts where you can’t turn the pages fast enough with wanting to know where the story is going and other parts you’ll want to read slowly and savor the heart-warming moments.

Seriously, you’ll be thinking about the characters, the setting, the storyline, when you’re not reading it. Brilliantly done. Very well written and tightly woven. I am so looking forward to book 4. Hint-Hint Ms. Taber. :) I definitely recommend this book and this series. I was given a copy as part of a book tour.
Profile Image for Kendra.
460 reviews
May 27, 2014
This book, the third in Taber's Aerenden series, took the longest out of the three so far to read. Not because Taber didn't do well on this book, but because she did. I was torn between having to find out what happened next, yet, at the same time, afraid to find out. Taber does not hold back for the sake of sentiment, she is a no holds barred writer, and no one is safe from her mighty pen (keyboard?). Another reason for holding back in finishing this? I have to wait for book 4 to be released to find out what happens. I fear my fingers will tire from having to hold onto this cliff.

One thing I would have liked to have see more of, however, was the battle. So much leading up to it, and it seemed over in the blink of an eye.

I do have some theories in regards to the prophecy, and what Meaghan has seen in dreams and her Writer's book... Will love to see if any of them have merit.

And I could go on with the "Taber's writing is amazing. She brings life to this world and these people," but I would just be repeating myself. Although it would all be true. What I do want to say is that Taber is an amazing, strong voice not only in the world of YA epic fantasy, but novels in general. And everyone needs to pick up this series and read it!
Profile Image for Brigid ✩.
581 reviews1,821 followers
August 11, 2016
The Zeihbu Master is the third book in Kristen Taber's thrilling Ærenden series. In this installment, we find our protagonists Nick and Meaghan separated from each other––as Nick is training soldiers in the villages, and Meaghan is on a dangerous mission to find Faillen's son.

I loved the first two books in the series and was eager to read the third––and it was well worth the wait! With each book there are more twists, turns, and excitement. Intriguing new characters emerge and we also learn more about the characters we already know.

In The Zeihbu Master we see Meaghan and Nick in their individual struggles––particularly how they are maturing and learning to take their responsibilities seriously. In addition, the plot is fast-paced and exciting, and had a cliffhanger ending that made me want to read the next book even more than I already do!

Over all, a great new addition to a series that readers should be looking out for.
Profile Image for Amy.
233 reviews
April 12, 2014
Another great book in the series! I'm just sad I wasn't able to Beta read this one like I have the others. I've been quite busy lately, so I haven't had the time for reading like I used to, so the beginning was a little slow going for me. I think it was more of my issue than an issue with the writing. But as always with the Aerenden books, it picked up and lead to an amazing cliffhanger of an ending. I love the new characters that are introduced. I am especially interested in where things might go with Caide and Emma, and as usual my heart is just breaking for Nick. You torture me Kristen!!!
Profile Image for Trish.
34 reviews
April 15, 2014
This is the third book in the series.This book drew me in much quicker than the last book. I felt compelled to keep reading because it felt so suspenseful and intriguing. Nick and Meaghan are separated and I feel so bad for them as the story progresses and the battles continue. I love the we learn more about Aerenden. I love all of the new characters(Including the beautiful women on the cover!) The ending was a shocker and had me screaming NO! This is a great series! It is a must read!
Profile Image for Gemma Wainwright.
3 reviews2 followers
May 4, 2014
As the 3rd book in the series, this was absolutely fabulous!! However, one of the reasons I sometimes don't read books till later is because I want to know what happens next!! Write quick Kristen, we wanna know what's going to happen! Definitely a must read and will be recommending all 3 to my friends :)
Profile Image for Andy.
14 reviews1 follower
August 12, 2014
Another rollicking good read as we follow the adventures of Meaghan and Nick and a plethora of other fascinating characters on their mission to rescue Aerenden. The Aerenden Universe is being skilfully expanded before our eyes, and it's history laid out for us to savour as we learn more and more alongside Meaghan. Another great read.
Profile Image for Jessica Del Fuoco.
115 reviews6 followers
July 27, 2016
Just as great as the first and second installment. I was so bummed out to learn that the next book isn't out yet...I can't wait for the next book! LOVE this story!
Profile Image for William Stuart.
Author 4 books99 followers
June 11, 2020
I read the first two books of the Aerenden Series by Kristen Taber and enjoyed both. I added Aerenden: The Zeiihbu Master (Aerenden # 3) to my TBR list after finishing Aerenden: The Gildonae Alliance. Here are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author):
Separated and on opposite sides of the kingdom, Nick and Meaghan face different pursuits which could change the balance of power in Ærenden forever.

While Nick trains the villagers as soldiers, Meaghan and a small rescue party venture into Zeiihbu to find Faillen's young son before Garon can use the boy's power to destroy those still fighting against his rule.

Everyone knows Meaghan could be on a suicide mission, but when Nick stumbles upon a secret concealed in one of the southern villages, he realizes Garon might not be Meaghan's greatest foe. The enemy most likely to kill her is someone who has also promised to keep her safe.

What I liked:
As with the other Aerenden books I’ve read, this one didn’t disappoint. Megan and Nick are still working through their relationship, but this time far apart from each other. Megan and Nick both grow characters and leaders, while the turmoil in Aerenden grows in turn. The intrigue surrounding the prophecies and their interpretation added a nice background to the story. Overall, Aerenden: The Zeiihbu Master (Aerenden # 3) is an excellent addition to the series!

What I didn’t like:
My only issue with the book is that Cal seems to be stuck as a character and overreacts to every situation.

Overall impression:
Good writing, good characters, and a great story all combine to provide a fun fantasy read. If you enjoy fantasy, try Aerenden: The Zeiihbu Master (Aerenden # 3)! Of course, you’ll need to read the first two books, too, just to make sure you know the entire story!!

My rating:
5 Stars
Profile Image for Fiona Andrew.
767 reviews13 followers
October 17, 2018

What an ending. Total cliffhanger. This book lead us with excitement, worry, battles and adventure. What will be next for Meaghan and Nick? Off to read the next book in the series. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Terri M..
647 reviews79 followers
March 20, 2016
The Ærenden Series by Kristen Taber starts out as a slow burn and then quickly takes off into a raging wild fire. I was happy to be given the chance to read the first three books in this series back-to-back. I think if I had reviewed only book one, I would not have given it a very favorable review.
The first book, The Child Returns, moved a little slow for my taste. When the book starts, the characters clearly have a history that started before page one of the book and Meaghan has these mysterious dreams. Those elements are tantalizing, but little is revealed as Meaghan and Nick make their way from Earth to and through Ærenden and the end of book one. This left me feeling frustrated and a bit disappointed as I felt I didn't learn a lot about the characters, the World and what role everyone was supposed to be playing. Thankfully, book two was waiting in the wings.

Book two, The Gildonae Alliance, picks up the pace. More is revealed about Ærenden, Nick's and Meaghan's role in the politics and lots of prophesies. The role of Seers and Dreamers in Ærenden was intriguing to me. They dole out the prophesies and dreams that tell the future of the realm and the people in it. The characters in the stories react to these differently. Some characters choose to let them rule their lives and other seek to change them. The dreams and prophesies drive the action in the story forward. Book two ended in a bit of a cliffhanger and once again, the next book in the series was waiting for me on my Nook.

Book one was a slow burn, book two the flames were starting to get fanned by the wind and then in book three, The Zeiihbu Master, everything comes to head and the wild fire takes off. When you reach the last page, the flames are out of control and if you are anything like me you'll tweet your frustration as Taber leaves the storyline wide open, your mind and heart reeling.

I am giving The Ærenden Series by Kristen Taber a thumbs up. While the pacing in the first book is slow, keep with it as the pace picks up in books two and three as more is revealed about the characters, the World they live in and how the prophesies and dreams lead them down dangerous paths in hopes of creating peace. I am very much looking forward to book 4!
Profile Image for Melissa Faith.
77 reviews1 follower
May 11, 2014
I wanted to love this book. I was so excited to read it! But it took me weeks to get through it because it didn't capture my interest until I was more than 2/3 through. I'd read a couple pages and just zone out and then start doing something else. The first two books in the series I finished in a day or two! I'm glad I made it through, I'm enjoying this series and I'll definitely read the next book whenever it comes out, but hopefully it will be more captivating.
31 reviews
July 26, 2015

Awesome!!!! I love the people in this book and really felt like I knew them. I hope there is more to the story!!!!! And that it doesn't take too long to be published.
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