J.J. DiBenedetto's Reviews > Urdaisunia

Urdaisunia by Kyra Halland
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it was amazing

Kyra Halland's Urdaisunia takes on a big task - combining an epic fantasy tale with a very personal and heartfelt story - and it succeeds completely.

Urdaisunia tells the story of the battle for the throne of a land called Urdaisunia, the land between two rivers. Three generations ago, it was ruled by the Urdai, a strong and wise people. But, depending on who's telling the story, they either grew decadent and weak, or simply turned away from their gods and were turned away by their gods in return. Either way, they were conquered by a nomadic, "barbarian" people, the Sazar, who have ruled ever since, and severely oppressed the Urdai as well.

The story begins with a chance encounter. Rashali, a recently widowed Urdai peasant woman, literally crosses the path of Prince Eruz, the heir to the Sazar throne. But rather than grovel at his feet, she defiantly stands up to him, intriguing him. He must know where this poor, weak, oppressed woman finds the strength to look her oppressor in the eye. That sets in motion a relationship that leads Rashali to the Prince's chambers in the royal palace, then to the dungeons, and then on the run, fleeing for her life. And it sets Eruz on a new path himself, one that he never could have expected. And then there are the gods, who are quite real, and quite interested in the affairs of individual mortals.

There are so many things to like about the book. First is the setting, which isn't the traditional medeival European-style fantasy-world. It feels more like the kingdoms of the ancient Middle East (Sumeria, Babylon and the like), which is a refreshing change. There's magic, but it's small and subtle, rather than flashy and world-changing, which is another change from the usual fantasy tropes.

What's the most refreshing, though, is that the characters are well-rounded and three-dimensional. They're believable, as Rashali and Eruz struggle to overcome the prejudices and hatreds they have towards the other's people. The story alternates between Rashali's and Eruz's perspective, with occasional interludes showing what the gods - who are as interested in Rashali and Eruz as everyone else - are up to.

There's plenty of well-handled action, intrigue, romance and high stakes, as the fate of the entire land is up for grabs. The book is very well-written with clean, engaging prose and a lively voice. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I highly recommend it.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 2, 2013 – Finished Reading
May 3, 2013 – Shelved

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