Friday, August 3, 2012

Book Review: WHITE RAVEN

Author: Irina Lopatina
Publisher: Light Messages
Pub Date: July 30, 2012

Terrifying creatures are invading the kingdom of Areya, and no one knows where they are coming from. Grand Duke Vlady believes he can fend them off with the help of the magical sword, Urart, but his nephew Prince Vraigo knows better. Endowed with magical abilities, Vraigo believes they must find the source of these evil creatures in order to defeat them, and sets off on a quest to discover answers to his questions. When Urart is stolen from the Duke's armory, the kingdom is in even greater peril and Vraigo must find it, along with the terrible being who is behind the appearance of the monsters. On his journey, he allies himself with magical creatures like werewolves and drevalyankas, and discovers a strange world he never knew existed.

I was struck by how nicely White Raven translated from Russian into English while still preserving a unique voice. I loved how the writing reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien and fairy tales. Lopatina has created a wonderfully rich world full of enchanting creatures like drevalyankas, pikshas, and yagas--a world full of wonder and magic that is everyday life for Vraigo, the main character.

The story itself is your typical fantasy plot of young man trying to fight back against evil and journeying on a quest to find a lost object, but the writing style and rich world building make it well worth the read. I especially enjoyed learning about the fantasy beings that Vraigo comes across; he is best friends with two druids, he makes friends with a she-werewolf who I am most interested in learning more about, and is joined on his quest by a drevalyanka (which the character from our world mistakes for a green dog) who sits on his shoulder or inside his shirt most of the time and helps him on his journey.

I guess I didn't completely read the synopsis, because I was surprised when halfway into the story, Vraigo finds himself in our world in the twenty-first century. I generally prefer stories that take place in fantasy lands and stay there, but I enjoyed the change of pace here and watching Vraigo try to make sense of this strange new world.

I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to the next in the series.

Note: There is a special promotion going on extended for this blog tour! Orders placed through the Light Messages site will be $12.00 per book instead of $16.95, and you will receive a personalized, signed postcard from the author, Irina Lopatina. These postcards feature landscapes from Altai, Siberia--the inspiration for Areya (how cool is that!). Go here to place an order. You can also receive a personalized, signed book plate for the front of your book by submitting a photo of yourself and your book here.

It is also my pleasure to have the author herself stop by with a few answers to some questions I asked her!

Q & A with the Author

1. I know Russian landscape helped inspire White Raven. Can you tell us more?
I would rather say that these were Siberian landscapes and Altai Mountains, the region where I live. Huge, modern cities coexist here with centuries-old impenetrable forests, mighty rivers and mountains. All this beauty of nature exists in the kingdom which is depicted in White Raven. The beauty of this region is a little otherworldly, so it was a small leap from my home to Areya.

2. Is there a particular message you want your readers to take out of your book?
I think that the world around us is not only beautiful but also incredibly complex. So someone--even someone with special abilities (such as magical abilities)--has to put significant efforts to show one's worth. Heroes of White Raven meet a challenge sent by the koschei and manifest themselves in full in the struggle against him. Facing challenge with a fight is the natural state of man in our world.

3. What authors and/or books have influenced you in your writing?
In my writing, I am not guided by someone else's works. I write as I think. But, of course, I read a great number of novels by many excellent writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, Andre Alice Norton, Stanislaw Lem, the Russian authors Nick Perumov and Svyatoslav Loginov, as well as the wonderfully charming Russian fairy tales.

4. What are you working on now?
I have a rule not to reveal the secrets of a book that is not yet completed. The only thing I can say right now is that I am working on my fifth novel.


This post was part of a TLC Book Tour for White Raven. Go here for a list of the rest of the tour stops, and to read more reviews of the book.

16 comments:

  1. I'm glad you're looking forward to more in the series!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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    1. There are certain questions that I'm looking forward to being answered in the next books. Thanks for having me!

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  2. This was a fun post to read! I love settings that are taken from places I've never been, like Siberia. Like Inina, I do not reveal anything except to a few advanced readers for feedback. Good luck with White Raven!

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    1. Thank you, Stephen! I wish you good luck with your books too!

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    2. I also love reading books by authors from other countries just for that reason.

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  3. Thank you so much, Allison, for your wonderful review! I would especially thank you for your appreciation of the writing and the translation of the book, as I believe that the translator managed to preserve the uniqueness of the Russian original text. I really wanted to write a modern fairy tale, and I hope that I could do it.

    Irina Lopatina

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    1. Thank you for answering my questions, and so speedily too! I think you succeeded with the fairy tale feel. It was a pleasure.

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  4. I saw a special last year on Siberia and was amazed at its vast beauty and unique creatures. You certainly didn't need to go far for inspiration. Good luck, Irina!

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    1. Thank you, Alex! Yes, Siberia is gorgeous even without fabulous creatures.

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    2. Now I want to visit Siberia!

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  5. That's funny - I must not have read the synopsis carefully either! I was equally surprised with that twist. I never really knew anything about the land of Siberia, so it was really neat to learn that the book was inspired by the landscape. So awesome!

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    1. It really was. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I loved that the magical beings in this world were so unique. I want a pet drevalyanka. They sound adorable.

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    1. I do too! They seem like they would be incredibly useful.

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  7. haha, I did the same thing and it was only after I was partway through the book and it was sitting on my table upside down that I noticed it was going to switch to the 21st-century. I must not have read very closely before!

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  8. haha, I did the same thing and it was only after I was partway through the book and it was sitting on my table upside down that I noticed it was going to switch to the 21st-century. I must not have read very closely before!

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