(This review was originally written on October 12, 2021)
Dispatch from the Freewilds
Lazerin (A Crown of Lilies, Book Two)
by Melissa Ragland
An expertly crafted and brilliantly paced epic fantasy tale, Lazerin is the story of a woman who has experienced tremendous loss and finds the strength and will to build a new life upon the wreckage of what she’s forced to leave behind. Featuring a spectacularly compelling, wonderfully developed protagonist and a military/political plot that consistently impresses, defies tropes and exceeds expectations, Melissa Ragland’s refreshingly detailed novel is definitely one of the best reads I have experienced in quite some time.
Written with abundant attention to both detail and dramatic tempo by author Melissa Ragland, Lazerin is the second novel in her epic fantasy series, A Crown of Lilies. The book is engaging from the start, its military and political conflicts at times quite breathtakingly depicted. The stakes feel real for Elivya, the story’s emotionally gripping hero.
In the aftermath of the devastating conclusion of Traitor, Book One of A Crown of Lilies, Elivya’s survival is far from assured. In fact, it is only through the courage and sacrifice of her staunchest allies in a daring escape from the hostile and dangerous Litheria that Elivya manages to arrive back to the relative, fleeting safety of her homeland of Laezon. Fate and blood have led her to this defining moment in the developing history of House Lazerin. Whether she is ready or not, the horrors of war are fast encroaching upon her ancestral lands…
First, I have to say that while I generally prefer to read stories written in the third-person perspective, I quickly came to grips with this truly gifted author’s approach to storytelling. It works quite brilliantly with the pacing, adding dramatic punch to each new conflict as it arose, and enriching the satisfaction as Elivya grew stronger and overcame each emerging obstacle she faced.
It takes its time, this story. It lets things develop, building slowly and deliberately, which serves to heighten the intrigue and, quite often, bolsters the feeling of realism. I believe in these characters and care about the dangers they are facing. I am invested in Elivya’s journey, specifically. When the story shifts to a different character’s perspective, I find myself eager to press on so that I can rejoin her and see things through, as if I am there, at her side, cheering her onward.
This author has a way with words, and writes very compelling dialogue, in particular. There are a lot of quotable characters and riveting moments that develop throughout this story. I do feel that it would benefit readers to dive into Traitor, first, as a lot of Elivya’s foundational development is merely alluded to in Lazerin. However, there is a lot to digest, here, and this novel does stand very well on its own. That is an impressive feat for the second book of any series to achieve.
There is a lot to like in this book, especially if you have the patience for its deliberately slow pacing. The author manages to avoid falling prey to a lot of preconceptions about the coming-of-age genre, and she has a well-developed main character who eschews many of the tropes common to young female protagonists in stories like this. She is distinct, flawed and quite human in all the best ways.
Some surprising moments were cleverly telegraphed and brilliantly revealed, which is a hallmark of a writer with a plan and the wherewithal to execute it professionally. I want to know more about this world, and I have high hopes for the future works of Melissa Ragland.
On a scale of 1-5, I am confident rating Lazerin FOUR out of FIVE. On a scale of 1-10, and it’s an EIGHT out of TEN, easily. I loved the slow-burn approach the writer took, and I came to accept and appreciate the perspective she chose to employ in telling this wonderful tale. It is a story with a lot of genuinely moving emotional impact, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read and review this novel.
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