The rider left the great sprawl of tents that marked the main camp of the nomad army just as the sun set.
–Kate Elliott - An Earthly Crown (Jaran #) - c.1993, 2013
I hate writing recaps of follow up books in a series. I never know what to give away about the previous book so I’ll just copy and paste the blurb from the author’s website :
In An Earthly Crown, the nomadic tribes of the jaran are uniting the settled cities of their homeland one by one. Their charismatic leader, Ilya Bakhtiian, has his loyal wife by his side, but there is something about her he doesn’t know: Tess Soerensen is a human. Back home, her brother, Charles, led an unsuccessful revolt against the all-powerful Chapalii empire. Charles’s insistence that Tess join him is as strong as Ilya’s reluctance to part with his beloved wife and neither considers that Tess may have her own plans for the future. As three fiercely independent spirits struggle for a solution, the fates of both the human race and the jaran hang in the balance.
Obviously the reader is returning to the ‘verse of Jaran and the story of Ilya Bakhatiian as he tries to unify the tribes and sweep across the land. And so we’re returning to Tess’s story as well. But in this book the reader gets a much wider, possibly more objective look at the characters of the first book.
Four years have passed since the end of Jaran and Tess’s brother has come looking for her, bringing with him a company of actors along with his advisors. So we get to see their culture shock arriving on this “backwards” planet. Hiding their technology and pretending to be from a country across the water called Erthe, rather than a different planet.
And it is a great read. I loved it. It is a complete page-turner. Just like with the first book as soon as I finished one chapter I found myself diving straight into the next.
And it builds wonderfully on the first. In Jaran the reader was in the middle of jaran culture, we knew why things were happening, most of the time. Sure Tess didn’t know everything, but she asked, she found out. She was the only outsider in their culture and she was trying to fit in. Now there are a whole host of outsiders living with the jarans. They aren’t part of that society, neither are they trying to fit in, they dont want to cause offense or upset, but they are separate from the tribes people. None of them are moored on the planet, they are exploring and uncovering it and so give a completely different interpretation of many things than Tess did.
I guess you could say that Jaran was somewhat of a personal story1 whereas An earthly crown shifts into the story of a world and a people. We also get the chance to explore more of Ilya’s back story, and his relationship with Vasil. And look at how gay men are thought of. And that aspect of Jaran culture will probably trouble readers most. It certainly troubles the humans from earth, as does the casual attitude to death and war. A lot of this book deals with war, as the army of the jarans sweep into action and conquer the cities one by one. There are battles, and death, of course, but also culture clashes as the conquered peoples have different manners and customs to the jaran, how can they work together.
All in all it is a great book and I’d highly recommend this series. And because Elliott has said that she intends this and Jaran #3 to be read as one book I’ve already begun His conquering sword.
If you’ve read and reviewed this book let me know and I’ll add a link.
with aliens and empire ↩