The Farsala Trilogy (Bell)

Next up: “Fall of a Kingdom”, “Rise of a Hero”, and “Forging the Sword” by Hilari Bell.

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I was a little uncertain how to class this series.  I think it could cover both YA and also perhaps older children’s.

Summary

The series tells the story of three characters: Soraya, Jiann, and Kavi.  They live in the country of Farsala, which is attacked by the Hrum– a nation loosely based on the Roman Empire.  Soraya and Jiann are directly affected by the war, as their father (they are half-siblings) is a commander of the Farsala troops.  Kavi is a young peddler who suffered cruelty at the hands of the Farsala deghans (lords) and who, as a result, starts spying for the Hrum.

The war is fairly one-sided; the Hrum are a fine-tuned war machine much like the Roman Empire was.  The initial push-back from the Farsala forces is soundly defeated and a lot of the resistance becomes piecemeal and sort of underground.

Underlying these three individuals’ personal struggles against the Hrum is the legend of Sorahb.  The mythical warrior hero is prophesied to return at the time of Farsala’s greatest need.  Surely now, with the Hrum invasion threatening to wipe out the kingdom, Sorahb will be reborn?  Could he perhaps have already returned as one of the protagonists?

My thoughts

This is not a difficult read, at all, which is why I’m not sure whether to class is as YA or older “children’s”.  However, the storytelling is very well-done.  I do like how the Hrum were humanized by the inclusion of the character of Patrius.  I like how neither side was really portrayed as completely good or evil; instead there is a mix of morality on each side.  There are good aspects to the Hrum and good aspects to Farsala, and the same with bad aspects.  This complexity makes it an interesting read and for a lot of it, I actually wasn’t entirely certain how I wanted the conflict to resolve.

Soraya was incredibly aggravating at the start of the series, which she was meant to be because she’s the favored child of a very influential deghan in Farsala.  She’s basically a rich brat.  However, she does go through some character development and gets better.  All of the characters, in fact, grow in some way and it’s really satisfying to see situations and environments having such influence on characters’ actions and personalities.

I also particularly liked how the plot point of Sorahb was treated throughout the series.  The legend of Sorahb is, evidently, based on a Persian epic (at least the bit of the story of Sorahb we get in “Fall of a Kingdom”).  The whole ‘great hero reborn’ is a trope that’s been used sparingly in the fantasy novels I’ve read, so I think the Farsala Trilogy’s resolution of it was unique and good.

It’s also a series with a diverse cast and a cast free of love triangle.  In fact, there isn’t much romance at all in the series, which can be something that’s hard to find.

Rating

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Warnings

None, to my knowledge.

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