Chimera Book One: The Righteous & The Lost
“Haunted by their pasts, a crew of thieves is hired for a covert mission in the midst of a galaxy being ripped apart by an interstellar holy war. If they want to survive – much less succeed – they must navigate hostile worlds, vengeful aliens, a deranged demon, and betrayal from within.”
“‘I’m not saying there’s no god. I just don’t think it’s him.’”
― Tyler Ellis, Chimera
Science fiction on the level of Star Wars, a heist for an artifact that is practically legend, and gods who walk among us. All wrapped up in a beautifully illustrated package.
Chimera was originally a webcomic written and illustrated by Tyler Ellis. Since, it has been published digitally by Amazon and available on Kindle. As of June 20, however, the first six issues will be in print in Chimera Book One: The Righteous & The Lost. This collection is what I had the pleasure to read!
So there’s really five main characters, although only four of them are the mentioned thieves. The other is a priestess of a god who doesn’t really seem to be given a name. She and the other priestesses call him “Father” and he is referenced to as the “one true god”, as the other gods (who are named) are called false and their worshipers called heretics. Unlike the other priestesses, she doubts the holy war and the crusades, yet she is His highest priestess.
Then there’s the band of thieves. One was the god’s “Golden Champion”, who symbolized peace and protection. She also began to question the motives of the crusades and the bloodshed that came with them, but unlike the priestess, she ran away from her place and title. With her is her brother, a man who’d wanted to escape the life he was forced to live, and ended up escaping through unconventional methods. Another member is a translator, and the reason they carry the lusted after Chimera. The final member seems to be a mercenary of sorts, and the reason why the four end up together. He seeks out the translator, who seems to be an old friend, and his introduction is one of my favorite lines:
“There’s a brother who’s balls-deep in killer robots, and a sister who’s the lapdog of god himself. Who do ya wanna rescue first?”
They are searching for a looking glass - only five or six exist, and are hidden in dangerous, practically-suicidal places. The prize for retrieving it is high, and perhaps with it, they can stop being outcasts and escape the war and “god” entirely.
It’s an amazing story, with much more to follow it.
Writing Quality ❤❤❤❤❤
Chimera is written in an interesting manner. It begins with the current point in time, as the band of thieves are working on finding the looking glass. However, much of the story is written through flashbacks. Every few pages, a bit of history is shown, whether it be about the main characters or related to the gods. This style was not distracting from the main story for me, and the connections between present day and the past flowed together really well.
Image/Illustration Quality ❤❤❤❤♡
I personally found the artwork in Chimera to be beautiful. It’s a bit stylized, but I’ve always loved that type of artwork. In addition, the end of the book has a collection of pin-ups of the different characters - a few of them are covers for the digitally published Chimera comics on Amazon. The only thing I really didn’t like about the illustrations were that sometimes the faces seemed drawn very...off. Usually, they are done very well, from all angles, but there are a few panels that seem awkward.
Character Development ❤❤❤❤❤
Because of the way the story is written, the flashbacks provide a lot of backstory to each of the characters. All of the characters are fleshed out well this way, and the reader learns each of their motivations as these glimpses of the past occur. More than motivation, these also give a lot of depth to the characters.
“Couldn’t Put It Down”-ness ❤❤❤❤❤
I literally could not put this down. The copy I received was a little difficult to read because of its size in comparison to the pages in the Kindle Reader. I struggled a bit with that, and had to zoom in quite a bit at times, but I won’t count against this since the official copy is in print, after all. On top of that, the comic is free to read online - I just wish I would have known that sooner. Otherwise, I just kept reading. It’s not an extremely long comic, as the current page count for the webcomic is just under 200 pages. But I did not even think about going to sleep until I was done reading it. It held my interest from beginning to end.
I’ve seen others compare the science fiction of it on the same level of Star Wars, but that doesn’t mean the story is anywhere the same. The characters’ main enemy is a spirit that calls himself the “one true god”, and there are a lot of references, include the crusades and his burning form, that lead to the assumption that he may be somewhat based on the Christian God and the history surrounding Him. History repeats itself, but instead of just Europe, it’s the whole galaxy.
Overall Rating ❤❤❤❤❤
Interested in Chimera?
Check out Tyler Ellis' webcomic, updated Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Preorder the hardcover copy of Chimera Book One: The Righteous & The Lost (Released June 20)
Check out the Kindle editions, $2.99 for each issue, or free if you have a Comixology Unlimited membership.
Keep on reading,
I thought I could get away with reviews that avoided spoilers, and that I could be content. I was wrong. I’m so excited about it, I might end up having to write another review without having to avoid spoilers.
I’m also trying a new structure for my reviews, so this may look a bit different than normal. Anyway, here is:
"Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans."
“Her mother sneered. ‘Then you are a fool.’”
“‘Good. I’ve become rather fond of fools.’”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless
From the synopsis, I expected Heartless to be a love story. I’m not a fan of love stories. But, I am a huge fan of anything Wonderland, so I still decided to give it a try. After reading it, I don’t think I would even call it a love story, although a lot of the story is based around Catherine’s relationships with both the King of Hearts and Jest.
The novel starts with Cath baking lemon tarts, very fitting for an introduction to the Queen of Hearts. That’s Cath’s passion - not only does she love to bake, but her dream is to open up a bakery that would serve only the best treats in all of Hearts. Baking and business ownership, however, is not something that is fitting for the daughter of a Marquess. Nor for the future Queen of Hearts, although Cath is the only one who doesn’t seem to realize that’s what her future holds.
The lemon tarts are important for more than just her baking, though. Dreams in Hearts, it seems, give birth to things in reality, and as such, dreams are rare occurrences. Cath has several dreams throughout the book, and each time, she wakes up to a plant growing around her bed. The first is after her dream about a boy with lemon-colored eyes, and she wakes to find a lemon tree.
She brings these tarts to the King - it seems she often brings her treats to him. It might possibly be part of the reason why he’s so taken with her, as he’s always asking what kind of delicacy she’s bringing to him next. Cath also isn’t expecting that the King is wanting to propose to her, and when the realization finally hits her, it’s too late to do anything but hope for a distraction.
Right into the new court joker’s arms.
The court joker who has the same yellow eyes she saw in her dream.
And so begins the story of the girl who doesn’t want to marry the King, but doesn’t want to disappoint her parents either. The girl who wants to open a bakery, but knows she wouldn’t have the funds without her parents’ approval. The girl who’s fallen in love, but knows announcing it would break the King’s heart.
It’s not a love story. It’s the story of a passionate young girl who becomes the Queen of Hearts we all know and fear. And it’s heartbreaking.
Because no matter how much I sympathized with and love Cath, there’s no avoiding that she becomes the “infamous Queen of Hearts”, just as the summary claims. Throughout most of the book, I think it’s easy to forget. As the end draws closer, I begun to believe Cath wouldn’t really become the Queen of Hearts.
Writing Quality ❤❤❤❤♡
I had read Marissa Meyer’s other books, or at least I started to. I’d begun The Lunar Chronicles, and enjoyed Cinder, but just couldn’t get through Scarlet and never finished the rest of the series. They’re not bad, but you can see so much improvement between The Lunar Chronicles and Heartless. I wouldn’t say that Meyer’s style has changed, but her writing is so much more refined.
Character Development ❤❤❤❤❤
This is one of the biggest reasons I find Heartless so compelling. From beginning to end, Cath is changing. She becomes more passionate (about more than just her hobby) and learns to stand up for herself more and more. The transformation from her character at the beginning and her character at the end is not just ever-evolving, this evolution is based on the circumstances and events surrounding her. Every change in her personality and goals has a reason. The main character isn’t the only one with good character development, however. Many of them change as the story progresses. Hatta, for example, starts as whimsical and mysterious - the host of the Mad Tea Party. As the story progresses, Cath sees more of Hatta, and his background unfolds to reveal more. But the circumstances also change who he is from there on out, ever-changing until the end.
“Couldn’t Put It Down”-ness ❤❤❤❤♡
Read dates: April 27 to May 1.
Heartless quickly drew me in, and it was really hard to put it down to take care of normal life. I was constantly reading, because I wanted to know what would happen to Cath and how she was going to achieve her dream of owning a bakery and how she was going to find a way to end up with Jest instead of the King. There were a few slow moments for me - where I skimmed pages to get back to what I wanted to read. These were far and few between, though they were there.
As it’s a spin-off story, Heartless isn’t completely original. However, I highly respect Meyer’s references and usage of the original Wonderland characters. The White Rabbit and his service to the King. Hatta and his mess of tea party guests, including the March Hare and the Dormouse. Even the Red Queen and White Queen and their war are mentioned, even though it’s in a world away from Hearts. But what I love best about Heartless being a Wonderland book is that it’s not just an origin story of the Queen of Hearts. It’s a girl who you would have never picked out of the crowd to become the cruel and heartless Queen. I’d read Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes, and while a good book, the main character is a bit of what you’d expect from the future Queen. Cruel. Cold. Uncaring for anyone but herself. While there’s nothing wrong with that, Meyer’s take on the character is very different from what you would expect, and it gives Heartless it’s own charm.
Overall Rating ❤❤❤❤♡
Keep on reading,
Interested in Heartless? Buy it at Amazon!
Daughter of the Pirate King is one of the first YA books I’d read in a long time, and the first fantasies that I’d been able to read for a while. I’d like to say that it was my re-introduction to both, and it certainly did a good job of sucking me back into the addiction of reading both.
It also reminded me that YA isn’t as innocent as I thought. There are a lot of sexual comments, wearing revealing clothing, etc - not exclusive to Daughter of the Pirate King, as it also occurred in Cruel Prince. I just wasn’t as shocked after seeing it here.
Alosa is, surprise, the daughter of the (self-proclaimed) pirate king, and the main character. She’s also part siren. Honestly, with the title of the second book, Daughter of the Siren Queen, I had still somehow expected the novel to evade the fact that she was part siren - either revealing it at the end, or alluding to it and introducing it in the sequel. I was very wrong. Being the daughter of the pirate king, she’s sent on a mission to retrieve something from the enemy. Alosa believes this is because she is his most trustworthy, but it’s often mentioned that she’s likely only important to him, and possibly trusted with this mission, because of her abilities as a siren.
The romance in this novel felt so cheesy and forced, in my opinion. She is stuck on an enemy boat full of men, but the first mate is so handsome and like no other pirate she’s met before. He’s stuck on a boat full of men and one beautiful woman - a woman that seems to be hiding something and is full of mystery. Their romance seems there to both distract her from her mission and make her question her morals and loyalty. If anything, it feels like it is lust - again, boat full of men - but they still end up caring for each other to the point that it’s a problem to both of them. Honestly, it felt a bit out of the character that had been built up for her to not be cold and heartless towards him.
Overall, however, it wasn’t a bad read. I picked up Daughter of the Siren Queen on release day, and even got a cute little signed bookplate for pre-ordering it. Like many of the books I’ve read since, the original journey wasn’t finished, leading into the sequel. I’m looking forward to reading it, even if just to see what happens next. Despite feeling like the romance was forced, I do hope the sequel doesn’t eliminate him as a character.
Keep on reading,
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Daughter of the Siren Queen
Prejudice has always thrived in human culture, despite those who try to stomp it out. Often, prejudice in prevalent as racism, sometimes to the extent that other races are seen as lesser - made to be servants or slaves. Enslavement of another race was seen in the United States for over 200 years, until it was outlawed in 1865.
Why is this important? Red Queen reflects this history. Set in a world where some humans have evolved, marked by their silver blood and unique abilities, history repeats itself. The Silvers, as those with silver blood are called, see themselves above those who haven’t evolved, the Reds. While the Silvers are nobles and wealthy, the Reds are forced to work and live in poor conditions. The Silvers rule the kingdom, while the Reds are forced into the army as soon as they turn 18. While the Silvers go into battle as generals, staying away from the front line, the Reds are practically used as meat-shields to prevent the enemy from pushing further.
I had a bit of difficulty getting into the first couple chapters. Aveyard does a wonderful job building the world and introducing it for what it is from the beginning. The status of the Reds are made known. The abilities, power, and cruelty of the Silvers are introduced very early on, through an arena display that the Reds are forced to attend and watch. The hierarchy is between the two is made clear from the beginning. It is a hard life that Reds live, and the main character, Mare, a Red, has accepted that there is no hope for escape. These are the lives they are forced to live, and it won’t change. Despite how well the world is built from early on, the first two chapters are slow. While there is the arena fight, there is very little action to it, and serves more to help build the world and the difference between Reds and Silvers. It took a little over thirty pages for me to finally get into the novel.
Yet, it wasn’t a can’t-put-it-down type of book for me, either, after that. The ending also felt very dragged out, with a lot of twists and turns and dangerous situations that Mare barely scraped by to escape. I found myself wondering why I was still so far from the end, when it felt like it was coming soon. This isn’t to say that it was bad - everything about it was well-planned out and made sense. It simply seemed to slow down and carry on for a lot longer than it needed to.
Overall, I enjoyed Red Queen and have even picked up it’s sequel. I’m glad that I took the time to get past the beginning of it, and I really love the world it is set in. The writing is spectacular, and I didn’t feel disappointed with the ending. I just hate that I dreaded how long it felt to reach it.
Keep on reading,
Interested in Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard? Pick up a copy today!
Red Queen Collector's Edition
On the island of Fennbirn, the queen births triplet girls every generation. They are separated from their mother at birth, raised together until they are six, and then sent off - not allowed to meet again until after the Beltane festival in the year of their sixteenth birthday. There is magic in Fennbirn, and each queen is born with a different gift - war, sight (which are both rare and almost extinct), poison, elemental, or naturalistic. In this generation, there is Katherine, a poisoner, Arsinoe, a naturalist, and Mirabella, an elemental. The crown is not won by one of the three through a simple display of power or through winning over the people. Rather, after the Beltane festival in their sixteenth year, an event called the Ascension Year begins. The three queens are forced to fight each other to the death - not always in conventional ways, as the previous queen won the crown by poisoning her sisters.
From early on, it is clear that the nature of everything is very dark. The queens of every generation have pale skin, black eyes, and black hair. Their ceremonial garb is black. The crowned queen’s murder of her sisters is not only seen as acceptable, but it is required and revered. Very few see the loss of a queen’s life as a true loss - knowing that two of the three girls will die in the end.
Fennbirn is cut off from the rest of the world by an unnatural mist - outsiders can enter on occasion but the queens cannot pass through. There is a common worship of the “Goddess”, who is said to be the cause of the magical gifts that queens, and sometimes the common folk, hold. Tales speak of the three queens as a gift from the Goddess - if anything, why else are they born in sets of threes every generation? This concept very interesting and this world is part of the reason why I loved the novel so much.
Before starting the book, I had been warned that it had a very slow start, but it still took me a few reading sessions to get passed the first couple chapters. The first chapter drew me in quickly, however, the chapters switch between the three queens, and for over half the book, it follows Katherine and the poisoners, Arsinoe and the naturalists, and Mirabella and the elementals (and repeat). When the first chapter ended and it switched to Arsinoe’s view, it felt very jarring. After a few chapters, once all three queens and their situations were introduced, it was a lot smoother to read.
You go into the book knowing that only one queen is supposed to survive. The author, however, does a good job in making the reader care about all three queens. I want to root for all of them, and when one is in danger, it doesn’t feel like it would be an obstacle out of the way. Instead, I don’t want them to die. I dread when the Ascension Year begins because I feel for all three queens and their situations. While the characters may want different queens on the throne for political or personal reasons, the reader isn’t looking at it from the mindset of the islanders. Why does only one get to survive? Unfortunately, there isn’t really an answer to that. It’s just the way things are. That’s how the island has always worked.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, rough start aside. Finishing the book made me wish that I’d gone ahead and picked up One Dark Throne, the sequel, as I’m not ready to leave the island of Fennbirn just yet. I have high hopes for the sequel.
Interested in Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake?
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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
I had never heard of Holly Black before, but now I understand why she's called the Faerie Queen.
As an Owlcrate subscriber, I received this exclusive copy in January, and absolutely loved it.
The main character and her sisters are very intriguing. There's Jude, and her twin sister Taryn, who are both human, and their older sister Vivi, who is half-fey. At a young age, their parents were murdered by Vivi's birth father, Madoc, their mother's husband from the world of Faerie. He takes all three children to his home in Faerie - Vivi out of right, and the twins out of honor, since they are his (late) wife's children.
Vivi, despite belonging more to the world of Faerie than the others, despises it, and her wish is to go back to the human world, living her life out there. Taryn and Jude were much younger when they were taken to Faerie, so despite being mortal and bullied by Faerie's inhabitants, they consider it their home. While their goals differ - Taryn wants to marry a fey and Jude wants to become a knight - they both wish to live their lives out in Faerie. While twins, Taryn and Jude tend to have differences that lead to conflict, and Vivi acts like a classic big sister to both.
It is these goals and interactions that drive the story and bring magic into The Cruel Prince. It is clear from the start that all three characters are discouraged from their goals, but it quickly becomes clear that these goals clash. Vivi doesn't only wish to live in the mortal world - she acknowledges that her sisters were stolen away from their home and don't belong in Faerie. She wants all of them to move. They have made trips to the mortal world, and Jude shows that while she is not a fey, misplacing her in Faerie, she was raised by fey and understands the customs and social interactions of fey. She does not, however, understand these things when it comes to humans. Sometimes it seems that they don't properly belong to either world.
And then there is Carden. Beautiful Carden. He is not only a Faerie prince - he is the most beautiful. And the cruelest. Enter the title character. He and his friends, or lackeys, attend the same lessons as the twins and make it a point to bully their mortal classmates. While Taryn is sometimes involved, the main conflict is between mortal Jude and fey prince Carden. The more she stands up to him and his power, the stronger the conflict becomes. Again, the characters drive the story and the magic, as a strange game of cat and mouse is played between them.
To top it off, Holly Black does a beautiful job in describing the world of Faerie. The Cruel Prince is not her first book to take place in this world of hers, either. It takes place in the same world as her Modern Faerie Tales series, which includes Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside.
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