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Note: The copy of the novel was generously provided by the author. 

By Sword and Star
by Renee Carter Hall aka Poetigress

Published by
Anthro Dreams

Red Eye Reviews: By Sword and Star
by pyro wolf

As TV Tropes can no doubt attest, an original story in terms of all-new, never before seen content is pretty impossible. I remember hearing once that there were only seven distinct stories in the world, with every story being derived from one of those few. The trick, then, is to make it seem if not new, then told in an interesting, novel way. And I believe that Renee Carter Hall, also known in certain circles as Poetigress, achieves that.

The story isn't necessarily going to set the world on fire. Prince Tiran is a fairly archetypical wayward medieval prince, who prefers to hang out among the common folk and help out every now and again rather than attend his princely duties. He doesn't see eye-to-eye with his father the king, who thinks he shouldn't be associating himself with such rabble. His world is thrown for a loop when the mantle of kingship quite literally falls on his shoulders at his father's assassination due to the magic that exists in this world, and he has to hightail it as the usurpers come after him. Then, he has to gather himself an army and take back his father's kingdom, growing up along the way. Again, fairly standard.

However, Mrs. Hall ups the stakes a bit more by saying that if Tiran, a unicorn, does NOT assume his rightful place as ruler of all Asteria, then the whole kingdom will stop being farmers and princes and knights and go back to being feral, four-legged animals. In this, she neatly justifies using animal people (not that this necessarily needed it) as well as forces the young king to act quickly because the world as he knows it will end should he not.  

Along the way, there are a few subplots that she weaves into the narrative, though there's very little wasted space along the pages. To her credit, Mrs. Hall creates a very tight, entertaining story with plenty of endearing characters, along with a great excuse to explore this world of Asteria. And you do get to explore it: Tiran first escapes into a neighboring area of squirrels, then finds himself pushed to the outskirts to some plains inhabitied by Awakened but four-legged horses, and finally to a tribe of wolves before coming back home.  

If you're looking for something that you've never seen before, you may not like By Sword and Star. If, however, you are looking for a very well-put together, with action and comedy, along with a bit of romance, then you will enjoy the story as I did.

October 2013

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