Today we’re celebrating the release of BRAZEN by Christina Farley with a review of Brazen. Now, it might sound like I’m thereby a little biased in my review, so let’s get this out in the open – I really like the Gilded series and Brazen in particular. I’ll give you all of the reasons below, so I’m more than happy to join Ms. Farley Blog tour but the review is my honest opinion. [Since we’re disclosing, I received an advanced copy for an honest review.] Brazen is the third and final book in the Gilded series about a sixteen-year old girl who must use her martial art skills and wits to save her family, friends, and country from an evil Korean god.
To learn more about this series, visit the “Gilded Series website”
Watch GILDED’s book trailer here!
Be sure to pick up the letter for this stop at the end of this post to earn extra points in the Kindle Fire or $50 Amazon gift card giveaway! Collect all the letters during the blog tour to spell out the secret message to earn more points.
Many series authors talk about having the opportunity to pick up the pace a bit in later books in a series because they’ve already laid the foundation of the worlds and characters. Christina Farley has done this with a vengeance. From page 1, the ride is on nitro-power, afterburners aglow and rarely a breath before the end. It’s almost as if she’s saying “You want action? I’ll give you action!” Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t dumbed-down action devoid of dialog, characters or continued world building. It is, however, fast. There is a sense that Ms. Farley has grown more comfortable with her characters and their setting as she completes the series. She continues to grow her world with new characters or deeper dives into existing characters, we have China thrown into the mix and see interaction between Korean and Chinese forces as well as a glimpse into the Chinese mythical world. There is serious strife in the land of Azure Hills. Indeed, even as Kud’s efforts to take over the Spirit World’s equivalent of South Korea make headway, we see prescient rumblings between North and South Korea in the regular world all too familiar to our own recent news. (For a synopsis of the story, see Goodreads. There are spoilers below for those how haven’t read Gilded, book 1 or Silvern, book 2. Read those prior to the book and this review)
While all of the Gilded series is well written, there’s a certain natural ease with which the story flows in Brazen. After you read it, you think “Yes, that’s the way it must go.” Even when there are areas where the story seems to falter, you realize that was a purposeful hitch that builds the storyline. I think I can give an example without any major spoilers. Jae Hwa meets with the Guardians of Shinshi who understandably don’t trust her because she is under contract to Kud. They meet for Jae Hwa to urge that they join forces, that their goals are the same. The Guardians don’t buy it. At first blush, I think, what a wasted meeting (although there were other benefits). There was little chance they we’re going to come to an agreement. Then I realize how often that happens in real life. There’s hope, albeit slim, going into a meeting and hopes are often dashed. Sometimes they’re met. Jae Hwa’s story has its ups and downs. The periodic missteps are the elements of the story that ground it in reality.
Jae Hwa doesn’t make every decision perfectly or perfectly execute on the ones she pursues. Gee, the feels like me. Yet she presses on against what seems like insurmountable odds. Wait, me. Pain and sorrow meet her all too often along path. You get the picture. She is a hero with whom we can all identity. You don’t have to be a cute teen to get her story nor to empathize with her character. No one is perfect in this story and that makes all the better the fact that our heroine, Jae Hwa, continues to pursue her goals despite her foibles. It reminds me of a 1981 Ronald Regan speech (the sentiment comes through whatever your politics):
All of us came here because we knew the country couldn’t go on the way it was going. So it falls to all of us to take action. We have to ask ourselves if we do nothing, where does all of this end. Can anyone here say that if we can’t do it, someone down the road can do it, and if no one does it, what happens to the country? All of us know the economy would face an eventual collapse. I know it’s a hell of a challenge, but ask yourselves if not us, who, if not now, when?
Those are the questions Jae Hwa answers with “Here am I. Send me” as I hope to answer in my own story.
What do I love about Brazen?
- The epic story sweeping across countries and people. There are major stakes in play.
- The intimate story about a couple of teens struggling in the most difficult of times to stand together.
- The mythic story where Korean (and Chinese) mythical gods and creatures come to life. While this is my third book into this world, Christina Farley continues to make it fresh.
- The ride. Pages were slamming by as I was caught up in the story. Bed time? Ha! That’s for TV watchers.
- The imperfect characters show that being brave isn’t about being impervious or perfect. It’s about pushing on even though you know you won’t get it perfectly right, trying even though it looks like you’ll fail.
Of what was I less fond?
Chirp, chirp, chirp – really, the only thing I can think of is that some great characters were lost along the way. That has to be, to make a great story, but it is sad nonetheless.
Clearly, I highly commend Brazen for your reading pleasure. It’s one series whose ending lives up to its promise.
Next up on Christina Farley’s Blog Tour – Tez Miller with a post on mythological characters in Brazen)