Book Review: Harmonies of War

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I have a special fondness for anything that involves stuff like wizards, castles, knights, armies and quests - you know, those fantasy-medieval stories where you instantly find new favorite characters playing a part in a seemingly impossible mission. When I was a kid, I can daydream all day playing the role of Aragorn leading an army or King Arthur swinging the Excalibur.

As I remember these things now, I realized the reason why I find these types of stories super fun - it’s because they are out of this world. They make me imagine new things beyond the boundaries of my childhood life; but more subtly and importantly, these stories influence me through the values they suggest. They show the virtues that I expect from the world, and that’s a beautiful thing for a child to muse about.

This fantasy-inclined preference of mine was what prompted me to explore Harmonies of War enthusiastically after receiving a copy from the author herself, Ruby Fitzgerald. Although it’s a new book brought to us by a new author, its writing was refined enough to lead me through a light yet intriguing read.


SUMMARY

The story  takes place in a world that’s fantastic to imagine - a world of human orders, political motives, and Descendants, different people who are capable of different kinds of magic. It is about a faltering kingdom that is awaiting its ruin from a ruthless conqueror who leads a magically adept army. However, the kingdom clings to the hope of a divine prophecy about an all-powerful Descendant who will fight for the kingdom’s deliverance. This all-powerful descendant is called Aurora.

The story starts when a magic academy of Descendants was sieged by Zagan the conqueror, who is also a Descendant himself. He did this under the hopes of slaying Aurora and preventing the divine prophecy from coming true.

While this was happening, a political maneuver also was brewing in the main kingdom, in anticipation of the upcoming war against Zagan. The queen Eleanor wishes to take full control of the army, and the king is blinded from this motive.

The victory against Zagan in this brewing war is loosely hanging on to the hopes of Aurora surviving, and the stability of the kingdom before the attacks finally take place.


REVIEW

Like most fantasy tales, this book has plenty of its own unique stuff and concepts. Here are some pros and cons of the book based on my read:

Pros

I think one of the most difficult challenges in writing a fantasy novel is making the reader imagine exactly what the author herself/himself is imagining. This is one of this book’s strengths - the author described her world clearly, and it’s relatively easy to read for a fantasy story.

Another thing that kept me reading through the book is the characters. Each character in the book has their own individual expertise in magic. That added so much to the diversity in the story. The author’s rich character-building led me to a thrilling anticipation to so many possibilities.

The best part, however, is how Ruby Fitzgerald takes you to an emotional ride. Even simple scenarios in her story can ignite a surge of feelings - from romance, betrayal, hope, and more. Its scenes are rich in profound details, that are all significant to express the designed moods.

Cons

While the diversity among the abilities and personalities of the characters were great, I still think they were a bit too "trendy." It's a fantasy novel involving war, chaos, and politics, so I expected a more sophisticated reasoning behind the driving philosophies of the characters. Also, I find it awkward for the most significant characters to be women. Although it's a good thing for the book to center on women empowerment, I think there should always be a balance between genders.

Another thing is the book's storyline itself. As I mentioned earlier, the concept of the Descendants and diversity of the whole cast were the best strengths of the book. This gave me a bunch of possibilities to think of. However, amidst all the potency for awesome plot twists, the ending was still what you can easily expect.


IS IT WORTH THE READ?




Yes, it is! The story will make you feel the pain of loss, yet also make you see the beauty of hope, camaraderie, and courage. This book is best for young adult bookworms who are fond of taking their rich imaginations and emotions to a fun ride.