Flawless world-building, Sasha Maclean
July 20, 2021
Imagine: you are enjoying life in your village, happy amongst your parents, brothers, sisters, and friends. Then, all of a sudden, a swarm of rogue pirates bombard your village. They murder, steal, commit arson. They capture you and your brother. They leave you in filthy conditions for months, with little food and barely any water, before selling you for piles of gold at a slave market.
The King’s Nightingale by Sherryl Jordan is a rich and exciting fantasy adventure about a girl named Elowen who is captured and sold as a slave by pirates, but because of her beautiful singing voice, she becomes the king’s personal singer.
Set in a fictional land based on Turkey and the Middle East, and we get to see a lot of characteristics from those places embedded in the story. It is a land of sultans and kings, extravagant palaces, and slave markets. Reading this book, you can almost feel the desert sand beneath your feet, hear the merchants shouting, see the exquisite architecture.
When Elowen and her younger brother are seized by pirates, they are both sold to different masters. Elowen is safe and living a life of luxury, but she worries about her brother, for she has no idea where or how he is. She will do anything to save him.
The author, Sherryl Jordan, is one of the most well-known New Zealand fantasy authors of current times. Her most well-known works include Rocco, Winter of Fire, and The Juniper Game, among many others. All of her books are written to an extremely high standard, and this one is no exception.
My favorite thing in this novel is the flawless world-building. The fictional land of Rabakesh is based on the 1800’s Ottoman Empire, and it is a descriptive world that uses all the senses to describe a unique setting. Most fantasy novels are set in a world based on medieval Europe, so it was amazing to have a fresh and interesting setting for this book. The plot worked perfectly with the setting, and it kicked the book up a whole notch.
My favorite character in this novel is Elowen, because she is always full of hope and determination. She loves her family and friends with all her heart, and always tries to protect them. Elowen is mentally and physically strong, stubborn, and determined to fight for her freedom and rights. I admire this in a character, because if she was a pushover, she probably would’ve died at the very beginning of the book.
I would recommend this book for anyone aged twelve to about sixteen. There is some violence and gore, so it might be too much for anyone under ten. But teenagers and even adults are sure to love this one!
I would recommend The King’s Nightingale to anyone who enjoys adventure, fantasy, and historical fiction novels; anyone who enjoys strong female heroines; anyone who loves books set in faraway lands. If you have read any other book by Sherryl Jordan, this one will be a favourite too.
- Sasha Maclean lives in New Plymouth.