Stories of the Raksura: Volume 1, by Martha Wells

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Author’s website | Publisher’s website
Publication date – September 2, 2014

Summary: In “The Falling World,” Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud Court, has traveled with Chime and Balm to another Raksuran court. When she fails to return, her consort, Moon, along with Stone and a party of warriors and hunters, must track them down. Finding them turns out to be the easy part; freeing them from an ancient trap hidden in the depths of the Reaches is much more difficult.

“The Tale of Indigo and Cloud” explores the history of the Indigo Cloud Court, long before Moon was born. In the distant past, Indigo stole Cloud from Emerald Twilight. But in doing so, the reigning Queen Cerise and Indigo are now poised for a conflict that could spark war throughout all the courts of the Reaches.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With two brand-new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell…

Review: It took me a little while to fall in love with the world of the Raksura, but when I finally fell, I fell hard. The main trilogy has become a favourite of mine, one that fills me with comfort and happiness when I read it. Extra stories that take place both before and after? Sign me up!

The book advertises that it’s two novellas, but there are also an additional two short stories thrown in, so you get more bang for your buck, so to speak. The first novella, The Falling World, involves Moon (and others) hunting for Jade and Chime (and others, but admit it, we’re all mostly concerned about those three) after they go missing, and the strange fallen city they discover along the way. There’s something I really like about seeing Moon be protective toward those he cares for, so the way he gets frantic and irritable when trails run cold and mysteries keep leading them onward really appeals to me. Possibly because it’s in tandem with nobody letting him let his possessive tendencies get out of control. The mystery of how the city fell and what happened to the people who lived there was a fascinating one, and I won’t give away anything major in case people have yet to read this collection, but suffice it to say that Wells does a good job dealing out pieces of the mystery little by little, leading readers onward and making us guess pretty much right until the end.

The Tale of Indigo and Cloud was quite possibly my favourite piece in the collection, since it delved into the very origins of the Indigo Cloud court, when Indigo stole Cloud from another court and everybody had to deal with the ensuing political chaos. The whole situation was a great one to read about; the way Cloud manipulated Indigo, the way Indigo tried to proclaim and them deny her feelings for Cloud, the way Argent was more concerned with her pride than justice. It was a great story, full of nuance and with more to it than it seemed in the beginning, and it was fantastic to not only see the origins of the court that’s central to the other books, but also to take a jump to Moon’s time and see everyone’s reactions to uncovering the whole story in the first place.

Also, to see a young Stone who giggles. That image made me grin!

The two included short stories were both heartbreaking to read. The first involved Moon’s childhood, after he had lost his family and while living with a group of groundlings, the struggle of trying to fit in with them even when he’s so different, and the jealousy that eventually causes him to leave. Knowing that was only the first of many similar situations was what made this such a sad story, though. Out of context, it was just a story of children overreacting and not understanding the subtleties of emotion and relationships. In context, you know it’s just the first note in a long song for Moon.

The second piece of broken-heart came in the last short story, which dealt with Chime’s transformation from mentor to warrior, and his difficult adjustment to a life lost and an unfamiliar and unwanted gain. In the main trilogy you see Chime’s bitterness over what happened to him, and his attempts to leave behind what he lost, but only here do you get to see it happen, to see that pain when it’s new and fresh, and to see him struggle with an unfamiliar body and a new way of living. In many ways, it mirrors sudden disability, and the adjustment period. You lose familiar aspects of yourself, have to find a new sense of self in new circumstances, people don’t know how to treat you and some react with hostility, and even if you have a community of support, everything’s so new to you that it’s difficult to see it because you’re in mourning for something you may not be able to get back. It’s the early stages of grief, and even though there are probably hundreds who would love to suddenly gain the power of flight the way Chime did, it can’t be denied that he lost much of how he once defined himself in the process.

Stories of the Raksura: volume 1 is an excellent set of stories that are perfect for fans of the main series who can’t stop asking about what happened off the page. The collection gives you more: more stories, more insight, more entertainment, with Wells’s signature flare and a wonderful cast of characters that I’ve come to know and love. I can’t wait to dive into the second collection in the future!

(Received for review from the publisher.)

3 comments on “Stories of the Raksura: Volume 1, by Martha Wells

  1. Pingback: June 2016 in Retrospect | Bibliotropic

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