Firstly a big congratulations to Cynthia Reyes on winning the Diamond Book Award for An Honest House. Very well deserved.
As one of the judges on the panel for the award, I can say that all the finalists were of a high standard and there was an excellent diversity in the five books selected. Well done to Kev for setting up such an interesting award and attracting top quality entries.
Next, some fantastic books. The author said she was worried about me reading them. Honestly. Anyone would think I was a meany when as we all know, I am a nice, kind, generous sort of person. (With the emphasis on sort of.)
The Solar Wind Series by Lyz Russo
I found these books un-put-downable. The first book in the series, The Mystery of the Solar Wind, is free. Once I’d read that, I had to read the rest.
Lyz has a great style so there are no dull boring passages in her book. She once told me I wouldn’t like her books because she goes into technical detail about sailing. I’d said the average reader doesn’t need all the detail an expert thinks is relevant. But, and a big but, Lyz does it well. It’s a part of the story, and how the characters react to the weather, the conditions, and each other.
Anyway, what’s the series about?
Well, the Solar Wind is a pirate ship in the 23rd century. It’s captained by the irresistible Radomir Lascek who has the motliest (multinational) crew ever, most of whom are waifs and strays, life’s unfortunates etc. As it’s futuristic, it’s dystopian, so most of the world is dominated by the nasty sinister Unicate. Our heroic captain, when he’s not pirating, is on a one-person crusade to save as much of the world from Unicate as he can.
The characters are brilliant. The Romany Federi and Irish teenager Paean steal much of the action and this reader’s attention, but there are other strong players throughout the series, especially the women: Ailyss, Dana, Perdita.
There are killings, lots of action, suspense and adventure, and in each book, more is disclosed, yet more mystery is added. It’s highly imaginative, Lyz even cleverly interweaves ancient Celtic mythology, nothing is ever as it seems, and although it’s described as YA, it’s a great read for adults who haven’t grown up.
Here are the books:
- The Mystery of the Solar Wind
- The Assassin (a contender for my fave in the series)
- Freedom Fighter
- The Morrigan
- Nix Romipen (due out 1 Nov)
And here’s a link to Lyz’s blog for more info.
With the exception of Nix Romipen, I acquired all the books from Smashwords and wrote unsolicited reviews on Goodreads because I thought the books merited it.
The Solar Wind Series is a good example of how writing style and the ability to tell a story is key. It doesn’t always matter what the story or subject matter is if it’s engagingly written. For relaxation, my choices are spies, crime and some macho ex SAS type stories. But with the exception of her last book, I also enjoyed Meyer’s Twilight series. The last one was abysmal.
I wouldn’t necessarily pick up a book like the Solar Wind, so it’s a total delight to enjoy not just one book but the whole series. Recommended for any pirate- and adventure-loving adult, or as a gift for young people.
I was curious about why Lyz wrote the Solar Wind series.
‘What gave you the inspiration for 1) the series overall and 2) the characters? We have a multinational crew – including a Hungarian captain, a Rumanian Free Gypsy, five (!) Irish crew, a Swede, and a German.’
Rushka was actually the inspiration for the series overall: The pirate captain’s daughter, competent, red-haired, Hungarian and mysterious. Together with sitting on the porch of a borrowed flat at the sea, looking at those gorgeous waves breaking, 4pm in the afternoon, with rainbows in their spray … and suddenly I could see the Solar Wind: All white hull and bulging sails, the beautiful sailing ship. But I tried my hand at “traditional” pirate stories and found sticking to the historic past so restrictive that I changed the setting to future – and it all just happened.
The Donegals were another part of the inspiration; I’d actually had a dream of being one of them (probably Paean), running away from the police, nowhere to hide, having done nothing wrong but being hunted for murder anyway. Radomir Lascek started off as an evil pirate, but it soon turned out that he couldn’t be evil, because despite taking the law into his own hand he was rescuing people from all over (hence the multinational European crew), and protecting them from the real evil – the Unicate. Lascek and Rushka would originally have been my central characters; except that I saw such a lot of it through little Paean’s eyes, and then the gypsy, who had been put in purely for comic relief, aping around and playing “pirate” with knife between teeth and all that, came down from the rigging and danced and jingled his way into the main role, overthrowing Lascek without even trying. :-D That’s just the way I know and love Federi.
As for the multinationalism, the Solar Wind is a freedom ship. Lascek collected his crew organically, they happened more than were hired. He took Sherman, Doc Jake and Doc Ju with him when he left the service of the Admiral; fished Jon Marsden as a half-dead castaway out of the sea; rescued young Wolf, most likely half dead from bleeding, out of a dockside pub brawl (for Doc to patch up); and both Federi and Ailyss infiltrated the Solar Wind. Rhine Gold was on his gap year and took a job as it was offered. The Donegals were rescued. Whom did I leave out? More or less the same goes for the crew of the bases. He rescues them. It’s how he picks up crew, wherever he goes. He’s even picked up a lot of Asian and African people (though the Africans have Southern Free, they don’t need Lascek as much). Most of these are on Island Base, but as you saw with Yang, also on the other bases.
Five Irish on the Solar Wind – it was only one, Sherman, before the Donegals were rescued and then Ailyss also infiltrated at the same opportunity. ;-)
No Americans. I guess Admiral Drake sorts out the Americans that need to be rescued. Didn’t occur to me before. Mindy is the first American on the crew. (Should I apply American spelling to her dialogue? :-D)
Thanks Lyz. Especially for the advance read of the totally gripping Nix Romipen.
And for aspiring/skint authors, Reedsy has an open entry comp for up to £3,000 worth of publication costs. Ends 31 October 2016.
I started off with good news but I want to say how sorry I am that good blogging friend Paul Curran, from Ottawa, has died. Paul guest posted on Mark’s blog on Sunday mornings and I looked forward to his posts. Although we only met relatively recently, he was a thoughtful and insightful commenter on roughseas. He had a raw deal in life and I shall miss his presence as, I am sure, will many others. RIP sweetheart.