Thursday, April 11, 2019

Review: Legend of the Exiles by Jesse Teller

Legends of the Exiles
Legend of the Exiles by Jesse Teller
Publication: April 15th, 2019 | Self-Published
Ebook. 454 pages.

About Legend of the Exiles:

"The isolated barbarians of Neather have deep ancestry and strict traditions. Four resilient women defy tribal customs as they fight to overcome their own tragedies. Abuse. Addiction. Assault. Grief. What struggles can they endure to defend their hopes and their hearts? 

Helena seeks a love as bold as she, yet finds the men of her village lacking. 

Jocelyn fears her strange visions and sacrifices a life with the man she loves for the one her destiny demands. 

Torn apart by abuse and grief, Ellen is a brilliant woman who must focus her intellect on finding reasons to persevere. 

Rachel, a brash girl of noble heritage, dares all men to challenge her and longs for one who will. 

In this set of four interwoven novellas, award-winning author Jesse Teller challenges assumptions and showcases the strength of feminine resolve."

I've previously read and enjoyed Jesse Teller's Manhunters trilogy (Song, Hemlock, Crown), so naturally I was excited to read something new from him. I was even more excited when I discovered that Legend of the Exiles is a tale of four interwoven novellas that take place in the world of Perilisc, each focusing on one individual woman. I wasn't sure what to expect from this format, but I knew that it was in good hands with Teller.

The stories take place in a low fantasy setting that has been fully built up and explored in his previous trilogy, but that doesn't mean that these stories lack in setting up a great world as well that I was easily able to find myself lost within. Even though I have knowledge of the world from previous books, I think anyone new to Teller's work should have no problems jumping right in. There's no major info-dumping, but there's enough world-building to give readers a solid foundation for understanding and enjoying the world.

The first thing that comes to mind upon reflecting on this book is how much I loved the ways in which Teller portrayed the "strength" of each woman. Lately, so many books--particularly in fantasy--are stuck in a certain rut where a "strong female character" equals being tough, using a sword, and rejecting most feminine values. I find this to be a harmful and frustrating trend, so I was glad to see that Teller used a bit of variety and showed how women can be warriors in more than just the traditional idea of a 'warrior.'

I really enjoyed reading about all four of these women and found all the themes they struggled with extremely compelling, whether I could personally relate to them or not. Ellen's story in particular stood out to me, and I was so pleasantly surprised by how well Teller navigated the topics involved. The other three women, Helena, Jocelyn, and Rachel, also bring great lessons and personality to the book. Each story starts out with an exploration of a general struggle that each woman is currently facing, but the result of the story leaves both the reader and the character making new discoveries about their individuality and how they have the strength to handle everything. The only minor issue I had was that I wish the there was a lot of the women/narrative telling the us the readers about their strength, rather than showing as much as they could have.

Within these stories, Teller tackles a wide variety of difficult topics and does a great job of exploring them and handling them in tactful and engaging ways. One of my favorite things was how Teller managed to keep them intertwined. It wasn't always overt, but there were many subtle mentions that added to both previous and future stories in ways that I thought were really clever.

Overall, I've given Legend of the Exiles four stars! If you're looking for some stories about incredible women, then look no further.

*I received a copy of Legend of the Exiles in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book.*

Buy the book: Amazon

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Song by Jesse Teller

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