Tess has no intention of staying with the Jaran. She needs to find out what the Chapalii are up to and then return to her life among spacefaring humanity. And as attractive as Ilya is, if I could have any Jaran man, I would take Kirill, who is handsome, flirtatious, and filled with a deep-rooted joy of life. I could list others. To me, Jaran is worth multiple re-reads just to visit my favorite characters again.
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Kate Elliott takes her world-building seriously. She has the mentality of a historian and an anthropologist, and as a result the Jaran are a completely plausible, three-dimensional society. Their culture drives much of the story, as Tess finds a place for herself in a world whose values, particularly in regards to sexuality and gender roles, are very different from the ones she grew up with. Also, the Chapalii are a well-developed alien race.
These are not your Star Trek aliens who have blue skins or bumpy foreheads but otherwise act an awful lot like humans, they are truly Other, with a mentality and values fundamentally different from our own. One caveat: As you might expect from such a complex story, Jaran gets off to a slow start, but the pace picks up once Tess meets Ilya and his people.
An Earthly Crown (The Jaran, Book 2; The Sword of Heaven, Book 1)
Give it until at least the end of the second chapter, and then it takes off. I hope this review will inspire you to get swept up in this rich, epic story. Order this book from Amazon Books. Read a DIK Review by Susan Wilbanks of the novel Raney To comment about any of these reviews on our message board If you are interested in writing a review of your all-time favorite romance.
Instead, one might suppose one is reading a travelogue with a mighty good plot that crosses the boundaries of time and space. This isn't too surprising, when one considers that Kate Elliott travels extensively in both time metaphorically, at least and space to research her novels.
The daughter of a history teacher and the wife of an archaeologist, Elliott has explored the ruins of the Minoans, Myceneans, Greeks, Crusaders, and Turks -- piecing history together literally from the ground up. She also holds a brown belt in Shotokan karate and can wield a medieval broadsword with credible skill. When she puts down that sword and wields a pen, readers can be confident that she knows what she's talking about. At the same time, nearly every detail in her books is based on some element of "reality.
In addition, some cultures buried practical items with the deceased in the expectation that the dead would use those items, or some shadow of them, in the afterlife.follow
The Novels of the Jaran: Jaran, An Earthly Crown, His Conquering Sword, and The Law of Becoming
Such goods can give insight into what people used in their daily life, and how they thought about the cosmos. Nor does she rely on books alone; Elliott haunts museums, consults experts, and often discovers that "special detail" serendipitously. I discovered that scribes would sometimes have a rare and therefore valuable pen taken from a species other than the goose. That detail found its way into the book by way of giving Rosvita an eagle's feather quill pen, a gift to her from the king as a mark of his favor.
The Novels of the Jaran
Women in The Crown of Stars also have considerably more power than their counterparts in historical Europe. Elliott devises this elegant combination of fact and fantasy "in part to amuse myself, and in part because I imagine that familiar reference points give readers a sense of depth that a completely made-up world might otherwise lack. One does, however, have to become a keen observer of the details of daily life.
Everything can be observed. If anything, developing a realistic culture in speculative fiction depends on recognizing those details that will give the most definition per word, so to speak. The ground has to be prepared, tended, formed, refined.
Likewise, a culture must show arts, beliefs, institutions, technologies, and roles. In the role of 'cultivator,' a writer doesn't simply impose her own notions onto that developing culture, but gives it a little room to evolve naturally in the course of planning and writing the novel.
- The Law of Becoming (Jaran Series Book 4).
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Elliott herself likes to explore "cultural ecology," the interaction of culture with environment. These details don't have to be prominent in the story, but they must be evident in the cultural landscape and in the behavior of the main characters, who are, presumably, affected by their immersion in, or alienation from, the culture or cultures through which they move.
An Earthly Crown (Jaran, #2) by Kate Elliott
Who inherits the land? Who inherits the movable goods? Is it necessarily the same child? Who can speak to God and who can't? Where does the food come from?