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review 2017-03-02 18:22
Jaran by Kate Elliott - My Thoughts
Jaran - Kate Elliott

I have been meaning to read these books for the longest time.  I'd picked up books 2 & 3 from the second hand bookstore a few years ago, but of course, held off until I could find book 1.  Well, finally, they came out in Ebook omnibus for a really great price - $2.99 - and who could resist that!

So... worth the wait?  Well yes and no.  The book is basically a fantasy set in a science fiction universe - maybe sort of like the Pern novels?  The thing is, you'd better like the heroine, Tess, because you're going to see a helluva lot of her supposedly growing.  To be honest, I found her really a bit too good to be true.  She really has no discernible flaws other than a stubborn unwillingness to actually talk to the hero, Ilya, about what's happening between them.  I wanted to smack both of them at different times during my read.  *LOL*

That being said, I really enjoyed the world-building - or shall I say universe building in this one.  Yeah, we've seen before the primitive society side-by-side with the space-faring society but the primitive world is being protected from the advanced bunch by interdictions - can you say Prime Directive anyone?  *LOL*  Yeah, it made me think, in a very loose way, of The Omega Glory from the original Star Trek.  E plebnista y'all!

What saved the book for me was the cast of secondary characters and the society of the Jaran.  Fascinating!  While I did lose a couple of my faves, I'm hopeful that further books in the series (there are 4 volumes) will continue their stories as well as that of Tess and Ilya.  And maybe Tess will stop being so perfect at everything.  A girl can hope!

 

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review 2013-11-23 00:00
Jaran: Jaran Series, Book 1 (The Novels of the Jaran)
Jaran - Kate Elliott So I give up on this book. I’m simply not in the mood for this and honestly I couldn’t care less about the plot, its characters or the intrigue.

This really isn’t a bad novel in itself. I appreciated especially that the author took her time to show us a different world with a different culture. Our heroine is stranded on the planet Rhui without the means to communicate to her brother, the Duke in charge of the planets in this territory. Tess attempts to get to the bottom of a supposed conspiracy against her brother by the Chapalii, an alien race that rules all territories. All science fiction in this books stems from this background but isn’t an integral part to the story, as Rhui is a planet populated by nomadic people quite similar to Arabs 2000 years or more ago on Earth. I don’t mean this in the least pejorative. According to Wikipedia in Biblical etymology, "Arab" (in Hebrew Arvi {{he:ערבי}}) comes from the desert origin of the people (Arava means wilderness). It is quite interesting how intricate and realistic the Jaran society and customs are depicted throughout the plot. Kate Elliott really did a good job creating this nomadic world. And for a while there I was really immersed into the story.

But Jaran is not really a science fiction novel and I sorely missed this element. I mean if something is taking place in the future, and space travel, alien races and intergalactic politics and intrigues are mentioned you want to see them played out. But for the main part this story takes place in an environment equal to 500 BC in the Middle East on Earth. Why look so far afield when there is so much close at hand?

Another complaint from my part: this story moves damn slowly. I mean Tess is learning the language of the tribe of this planet and learning to ride and trying to understand the very different culture and them she learns songs and native legends and myths. That's all well and good, but 35% into the story the romance didn't even start, not even romantic interest is really shown. Instead she is having casual sex with someone else.

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In addition, the charismatic Jaran ruler, Ilya, is not that charismatic to me. He doesn’t talk much, he has a beard and imho he is something of a fanatic, who tries to lead a holy war. I couldn’t get this picture out of my head, and even the fluid grace of his walk, couldn’t make up for the facial hair and his brooding character.

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The missing romance is a minor part compared to the overall missing emotions. I don’t care about the characters. I don’t care about the supposed conspiracy and Kate Elliott didn’t make me care. Conversations are ruled by customary phrasings and conduct: men talk to women this way, women to women talk this way. If a man touches you on your arm it means this, if he touches you on your shoulder it means something completely different. It’s all a bunch of traditions and norms, semantic nuances and honestly: Who the fuck cares? And to top it off there is this moment where they ride through the landscape and Ilya and Tess suddenly start talking about Newton and Aristotle and Plato.

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My conclusion: this book is simply not for me, but I really understand what people like about it. It’s just not the right time for me to read it.
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review 2013-07-25 00:00
Jaran: Jaran Series, Book 1 (The Novels of the Jaran)
Jaran - Kate Elliott So so good!
Really! It really really is...4.5Stars... but not quite 5 hence I rounded it down.

This is a re-release and to be honest I was baffeled that I missed this. I could have sworn I read all of Kate Elliotts books. After reading this I did a search around and realised that I it wasn't at my local library nor did my favorite book stores stock any copies of it. SO I am beyond glad that they re-released this. If you like Kate Elliott this is a MUST read.
This is Elliott at her best. Clever world-building and beautiful prose as always- but more importantly great characters and an interesting relationships.

The plot is interesting, different and yet familiar. Elliot got the timing just right with this one. It feels like a beautiful melody, right pace, sometimes fast and eventful (action) and sometime slow and thoughtful.
I love traveling so I might be biased since this book is mainly about a journey. But Elliott managed to not only evoke places in my mind but most importantly made me fall in love with the characters. Saying that the book offers not only a journey, there is a political intrigue in the making, battles are fought, romances are struck and there is an entire alien world that still has to be explored.

There is quite a big cast of characters. But while I felt a bit lost in the beginning, I quickly grew to know them and adore them all. The story is mostly told from Tess POV. It does have a few other POVs as well. For me the book showed Tess'es journey - an outward and an inward one. And as she got to know people and their cultures one got to know them as well. I absolutely loved her banter and frien-emy relationship with Ilya.
I think this is very much Elliott's MO, and while I enjoy her world-building and fantasy part always, I honestly am every time much more taken by her character building. This book is definitely way more character-driven. I think the world-building is extremely clever and fascinating, the plot exciting but the characters are what makes this book. Elliott written a whole clan of characters with such insight, that I care for all of them, enjoyed their relationships, laughed and felt sorrow with them and I want to know what will happen to them in the next installment. To be honest, I am not quite as taken by the alien side of the book or the whole political intrigue- but that might change in the next.

As I said the world-building is clever. Elliott did here what she does so well. She took known elements added them to an entirely new world and wrote a new history. In this case we got aliens, different planets but we also have our own human history as a basis. The Jaran do remind me of the mogul and their culture. There is way more to be discovered of this world and I am looking forward to it hopefully in the next few books

The prose is beautiful. I love Elliott's writing style- so I knew I will at least like the prose. And I was not dissapointed, I got all the things I love about Elliot and was left marveling again at her skill.

A must read for lovers of Elliott's books - but also a definite must read for lovers of fantasy!
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