Blood and Honor Series

Blood and Honor Series - Windstar and Zee 'Selene and Nix' is about the woman who started it all--Selene, the female Moses who had the vision from the Moon Goddess and led her people out of slavery. The Biblical similarities end there though, as Selene's goddess isn't exactly a hands-on one, and after the initial 'vision', they were pretty much left to their own devices to get out of their misery. The central focus is Selene and Nix's love story and everything else just happens peripherally. Of the four books, this is the weakest in terms of plot, as it seems to be just a prequel to the main book Blood and Honor, as the Hobbit is to LOTR. Don't give up though, as you will be richly rewarded in the end. One of the more interesting aspects of the book is the idea of female only procreation. It's a good thing the goddess thought of that before she dragged them out, because how does one grow a female only society otherwise. :)

Book 2 titled 'Rezan' is about the second generation. This is where it starts to get interesting. In the first book, we are merely dealing with a jealous lover. This time, jealous lover turns to the dark side and starts to plot some serious vendetta against our heroines from book one. The book starts out with a YA romance, escalates into a horrific bloodbath, and culminates with a bloody but decisive battle. I've got to give it to these ladies. Sweet romance + bloody massacre + battlefield action = great read.

One of the things that left the biggest impression with me is that the authors (like GRRM) are not above killing off major characters (that I'd grown to love) to move the plot along. Don't let that turn you off from reading. Just remember that this is a multi-generational series, so they will get their day eventually...(well, I'm hoping they will, as it seeems some of it hasn't been written yet(?). There is a lot of foreshadowing in the last book, so I'm taking heart that they will eventually be avenged!). Also, they're not afraid of breaking apart our favorite pairings. Don't worry, the authors are firm believers in HEA, even if it takes decades or hold your breath, a century to get them back together again. I'm kidding. Or not.

As it turns out, the big, bad battle in Rezan is just a foreplay, err, I mean, foretaste of things to come in 'Blood and Honor'. Again, don't let my warmongering turn you off the book. Unlike LOTR, the book is very accessible to romance readers like me. The driving force behind the book is the power of redemption after one of the most horrific acts of betrayal. One of the heroines here is seriously flawed and not the squeaky clean ones we had before. And it makes the book much more compelling. It is very rare that authors have taken the chance to paint their heroine as less than pure, and I'm not talking about past actions. The contradiction between her and the other squeaky clean heroine is stark. But who is the bigger hero in the end? And despite their mutually professed love, will it be enough to for them to overcome their differences?

This epic tale, despite its length, never bores, rambles nor bogs down into tedious battle action. Even if it is largely unedited free fiction (I don't want to use the term fanfiction because this is heads and shoulders above that, and even better than most published lesfic), the atmosphere is just tense and tight enough that my attention never wavers.

At the start of every chapter, the authors include a piece of backstory--a scene from the past, that sheds light on some related thing in that chapter. If you read the books in order, you'll notice these are scenes from 'Selene and Nix'. I'm not sure but i think 'Blood and Honor' was written first. And the authors just expanded these 'backstory' scenes to the full 'Selene and Nix' to make the story much clearer, instead of revealing the backstory piecemeal.

There are some other notable things about the book that I really enjoyed. One of those is the authors' view of development of a women-only society. Its far from rosy as Selene originally envisioned. Women, just like men, women are just as prone to hunger for power, vengeance and are not above using violence against fellow women to obtain it. Of course, they were tainted by dark forces. But in the universe the authors created, women are just human. Over the course of time, the various ragtag settlements have re-arranged themselves to form distinct tribes where there is some specialization. In the main book, the authors assigned the tribes to the basic elements of Earth, Fire, Water and Air. Sounds like Avatar, the Last Airbender. But 'Blood and Honor' predates Avatar. THe authors also borrow some from Greek mythology, populating their world with meddling gods and goddesses who aren't above using the humans as proxies in their turf war and the rush to amass worshippers. Of course, there's also the halflings or demigods who are forever torn in their loyalties between their two natures, and who play active roles in the human's lives.

True evil never dies, of course, so we have a fourth book. 'King and Country' is set several generations after 'Blood and Honor'. Officially it is not classified as a sequel on the website where I found this (I wonder why not), but because of the same characters involved in the same universe, it definitely is a direct sequel. Not as exciting as the third, but a very good read nonetheless. It is set in the desert where some of the women who left with the exodus but lost faith in Selene have settled. Instead of gods/goddesses, the women (and men) who grew up there worship and harness the power of elementals. These are nature spirits from the basic elements water/earth/air/fire which when harnessed properly can be controlled by man. One of the main issues explored in the book is what happens to someone when everything they've ever believed in --and they've pledged their life to--is a lie. The way this is set up is very original and well, a bit funny too.

'King and Country' tries to wrap up some loose ends from the third book. Fortunately or unfortunately, it also clearly leaves an opening for a 5th book. So, I will be keeping my eyes open for that as I'd want to have some closure for a couple of the more tragic characters that were introduced in book 2. No need to hold your breath though, as they're demigods and can afford to wait a long time. :) But we readers can't, so I hope the authors don't take as long as GRRM to come up with the next book.

What sets this series apart from others is that the books (and the romances) don't get boring because there is a unique human interest story--a different kind of struggle--in every book. Now that's how you do sequels.