Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Review: Auralia's Colors

Books are very special things. There are thousands upon millions of them, yet each person has their own preference and each book has a different meaning for different people. Books draw us in with their titles, lure us to their shelves with intriguing cover art, and pique our interest with the exciting promise of a new adventure. Once opened, books can take us anywhere, wrapping us up in their enthralling pages, weaving us into the tapestry of their stories.

As an avid reader, I’m always looking for an exciting story that is well written and that draws me in from the beginning. Usually I can tell whether a book will be good (or bad) after I’m finished with the first chapter (which is why it is so important for writers to make absolutely sure that the first few chapters of their books are written well. :D)

In this case, “Aralia’s Colors” truly exceeded my expectations: I could hardly put it down. (And that is really saying something!) Rarely does a book weave a tapestry so vibrant and intriguing as in Jeffrey Overstreet’s “Auralia strand”, the title of his first fantasy series.

I was introduced to the book via reviews on the internet.  Intrigued by the discription of the book, I decided to find the book and read it for myself.  I was not disapointed.

From the very first page I was immediately transported into a world so vivid that I hardly wanted to return to my own.  Overstreet uses Third person Omnicient POV, but he also has a destinctive narrative voice.  This isn't a bad thing.  If there is one thing I've learned from writing, it's that as much as a writer wants to show the reader everything that happens in a scene, the writer still considers themself a story teller.  There is nothing wrong with this, and if a writer is good at thier craft, a certain essence of narration often adds a valuable element to the story rather than taking away from it.

After reading this book, I am willing to admit that I will probably never look at this world the same way again.  I'm not exagerating when I say that something about how this story is worded opened my eyes to a world of wonder; I will always be searching for the colors that Auralia was so adept at finding, even in the simplest things.

In the story, Auralia was found as a baby by two old men, supposed criminals cast out of House Abascar’s walls to be Gatherers. They discovered her by a river and inside a giant footprint. As a little girl, Auralia proved to be very different from the other orphans issued to the Gatherer’s for care; she was very secretive and didn’t seem to mind being along. But perhaps the most intriguing thing about her was her fascination with colors. She could find them anywhere: in the glint of the sun on a raven’s black wing, in the fur of a viscrocat, even in the rain, or in the stones on the ground. And each color she found made her want to find more. She started making things with the vibrant colors she’d come across, little trinkets and pieces of clothing to show her thanks to the gatherers who took care of her. However, in House Abascar, colors are a forbidden privilege saved only for honors and royalty. Auralia laughes at such a thought as forbidden colors, for who can forbid what the whole world flashes for its people to admire? She keeps on with her weavings, watching for the footprints on the Keeper, a creature said to be only in children’s nightmares, but whom she knows is meant to protect them.

Auralia’s gift with colors opens many eyes to the wonders around them including the eyes of a prince, a magician, and a hard-hearted king. But colors like these are a danger in themselves, and Auralia’s gift may bring about the restoration of the sad House Abascar… or the ruin of it.

Jeffrey Overstreet, the author of “Auralia’s Colors” is (in my opinion) a master in the craft of storytelling. I wouldn’t call what he does “Writing” so much as I would call it “Painting with words”. It’s difficult to describe the book otherwise. His prose are like poetry, and his use of metaphors and similies make Auralia’s world seem absolutely magical.

One of the aspects of this book that I find most intriguing and surprisingly refreshing is the easy shift from one person’s POV to the next, which is not to be mistaken for the use of the all omniscient point of view. Overstreet uses Third Person Omniscient POV consistently throughout the entire book while also telling the stories of several different characters simultaneously.

To be honest, I could not decide on which character was the most important after I had finished reading the book. I also debated with myself as to whether or not Auralia's Colors were a character unto themselves. The story in itself is more prominantly about how Auralia’s gift with colors affects everything and everyone around her, than it is about letting the reader really get to know her and get inside her head.   In fact, she remains a kind of “special mystery” throughout the entire book.

Because of Overstreet’s unique choice of style and voice, we get to read into the lives of several significant characters, including the Prince of Abascar, an Ale Boy with a secret past that he can’t remember, a guard’s daughter, and the King of Abascar himself, while we follow the lives of Auralia and her guardians at the same time. Each life we read into seems to have an equal amount of weight and importance that it adds to the story. One might even say that the book has three main characters instead of one, because the story is as much about Prince Cal-Raven and the Ale Boy, as it is about Auralia and her Colors.

I give this book five stars out of five, and can’t wait to read the rest of the series.


Squeaks said...

Wow! Sounds like an amazing book! I should look for it in my bookstore :P By the way, I like your background! The purple really suits the look


Galadriel said...

I love those books--just got the third one, Raven's Ladder in the mail. They are amazing and deserve a genre all to themselves.

Jake said...

What I found rather funny is the masterful way Overstreet called the ale boy, well, 'the ale boy' through all of the current books. Any time you read the words 'ale boy' you immediately understand who Overstreet is talking about, and what he looks like, what he likes, etc. (lol!) In fact, the last book as of now is titled 'The Ale Boy's Feast'.

Anyway, anytime I see the words 'ale boy' I think of Overstreet's books--which would just prove Overstreet's masterfulness. :)

Jake said...

PS; Thanks for putting up that rhyme thingy! I was just writing a poem summarizing the history of a country in my novel (which is quite a job), where the words rhyme every other line. So that was a lot of help! (I could've searched it on Mr. Google, but that was too easy! ;D)

Brad said...

Good review!
I'll add this one to my "seek and read" list.

Yazzie~ said...

Cool Blog Nikie!! I went ahead and searched you up because I'm not sure when I'll be able to get on the computer next. I'm so engaged in what you have to say and write about. I wish I knew about this page sooner.. but it's better than never I suppose. I'll have to check this book out. I didn't have time to read this full post, but I will soon. Don't forget to stop by my Blog as well.. tell me what you think ;) Your input means a lot to me.. one fellow writer to another, haha :D Gotta go to bed.. night, night! Love you!♥

Star-Dreamer said...

Squeaks: they really are amazing books. I have to agree with Galadriel and say that they deserve a genre all to themselves.

Jake: Yeah, I deffinitely like the way that he refers to the ale boy throughout the story. I thought that was well done too. :) (and btw, I thought that rhyming thing was cool when I saw it listed... I'm glad it's helpful.)

Yazzie! I'm so glad you like it. I'll be checking out yours today sometime. I hope you come back. :D