Sunrise Meets the Star by Victoria Bastedo
a Fantasy novel released on 3/14/14 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Verone was a peasant but he had been educated and was intelligent. For this reason and the attitude of the town toward them, Verone and his mother lived on the edge of the quiet out of the way town until his mother passed away. Verone’s life working as a laborer was flung upside down when the loud-spoken dark-haired man Antaries arrived with his group of travelers. They had come for Verone and he would journey back with them through thick and thin to fulfill the strange requirements of a will left by his father’s partner.
Verone is at first led by curiosity and the chance to see the world, but soon realizes he always wanted to cast off the peasant life’s burden for greater things like adventure, friends, and family. He found all of these in his journey with Antaries, the solicitor and his son, the two guards, and later the girl turned thief turned companion. In the end the journey will bring them all to places they hadn’t imagined.
keywords: Journey, Prince and the Pauper, friendship, class distinctions, ‘a’ names, two halves of a whole, prophesy/legacy, Peasant
Victoria Bastedo excels at creating characters and growing them through a novel. Sunrise Meets the Star is the second novel I have read by this author and I am delighted with her ability to realistically and immediately pull me into her characters. In this novel, she introduces the main character, Aldeveron, right away and gives me a complete physical description without just telling me. She shows me that Aldeveron is very light skinned (so much that he gets sunburned) and that he has red hair and is strong because he is a laborer. She implies that he is soft-spoken and has settled into the routine of his life, accepting his low station and birth, until his journey because of the Will. Throughout the novel, Bastedo grows Aldeveron into the leader he must be to claim his rightful place in society.
Berlin is “a man with several sides, and his sense of nobility was skewed, and yet he had a loyalty for those he traveled with…” (pg. 163, according to Verone’s thoughts). Throughout the novel, Berlin undergoes as much of a change of character as Aldeveron and the relationship between these two is quite fascinating to behold. Bastedo does not immediately resolve the conflict between them that was created through class distinctions, she maintains the realism of persona throughout the novel, allowing Berlin to slowly and almost unwillingly see Aldeveron in a new light even though he persists in calling Verone a ‘peasant’ over and over. The verbal abuse Berlin throws at Verone is not unsettling for the reader because Bastedo has made Berlin a real person, with conflicted thoughts and feelings that erupt even as his temper does at the traveling party having to ‘succor’ a peasant.
There is a moment in the novel that struck me as a turning point in the relationship between Berlin and Aldeveron and it involved a hat. I applaud Bastedo for being able to hold her characters to their behaviors while at the same time having them show their conflicted and complicated interiors. But as Chickory puts it, Aldeveron has a way of “winning people over.”
The only issue I had with the characters was being overwhelmed by all of them almost at the same time. The travel party of the two guards, the father and son duo, and the leader were thrown at me all at once, which makes sense in that they were traveling together. However, this overfilled my mind and I was not able to sort out the characters between themselves for several chapters and wished that each of the companions could have been especially recognized for me to understand them one by one. However, once I got to know them I felt like I could accurately predict how they would respond in any given situation because they were described so well.
Bastedo has several instances of simply amazing dialogue that absolutely brings the characters to life. One of my favorites was when the innkeeper is speaking to Cicado as she is upset, “Seen a lot of hard at my inn,” the man said. “Mop up, Girl.” (Pg. 121). Another fantastic example of a well-crafted sentence that shows the depth of intelligence in Bastedo’s main character Verone is when he muses in chapter 11 that, “I don’t know the rules of the world that created his opinions.” (referring to Berlin)
Not only character descriptions and dialogue, but scenery descriptions were wonderfully captured by Bastedo. When Verone first reacts to arriving in Easthaven, Bastedo describes what he says in a lengthy list, overwhelming us just as Verone is being overwhelmed, “They had bright clothes, bright food, and strange and tinkling items of art, jewelry, rattling cards, horses adorned with shiny headpieces, shoes with ribbons, pretty girls smooth as velvet, refined men that rivaled Berlin, books and storefronts and…” (ch. 20, pg. 185)
The setting was quite believable with only minor instances of deviations, such as ‘mowing’ grass. Spelling/grammar/word choice also only contained minor errors. There were a few missing commas where a natural pause would occur but this novel had a high readability. The main issue I had with the writing style/word choice was the lack of definition in many cases on who was speaking or performing an action, where the author would refer to ‘he’ and ‘him’ in the same sentence for two distinct persons. For example, on pg. 131, “he managed to convince him.”
The mechanics I most enjoyed were the chosen names for places and people. They fit into the world Bastedo had created while still being pronounceable. My favorites were Aldeverone, Cicada, Berlin, Antaries, Chickory, Fractin, Patifica, Pequesterey, Wendland… Basically all of them.
This fantasy novel was not too much in your face about the morals of the story, instead integrating them so well into the plot that I did not realize there were so many treasures embedded until the end rolled around and I was finished. Bastedo eloquently deals with class distinctions, her characters transcend these boundaries as they become friends. Berlin judges Aldeveron as a peasant of unequal class, even though the distinctions are not as they seem for he has been educated, is intelligent and displays exemplary character, fighting skills, and humility during their journey. Berlin learns that he can’t always judge a book by its cover.
The one thing I wish the author would have done differently was to integrate the meat of the plot earlier in the novel, giving us a peak into the main mystery before the ending action. There was enough to move the story along and me with it but I felt that the plot was lacking in luster until the author made the big mystery reveal towards the end. The reveal was clever and I could see in hindsight that it had been integrated into the story as far as the first few pages but I would have liked to know that sooner on in my reading.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventure novels with a taste for more humble times (i.e. horses as transportation and a distinct class system)
This novel was published by the author on 3/28/11 and re-released on 3/14/14 and is available on Amazon here.
TLDR Star rating: 3.75
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