Friday, March 15, 2024

Review: The Cloud Roost (Jekua #5) by Travis M. Riddle

The Cloud Roost
 (Jekua #5) by Travis M. Riddle
Independently Published
Publication Date: March 12th, 2024
Paperback/Ebook. 630 pages.

About Cloud Roost:

"Balt Vana is going to do the unthinkable: imprint a legendary Jenu.

That's his plan, anyway. His grandparents might not be dead on Pakree after all, and he needs a Jenu's Warp magic to reach the island.

Complicating matters is the Facet, the shadowy organization stealing the Church's Veptilos. With them continuing to make moves, setting up a new base and preparing their Summoners for one final assault, Balt has to move fast.

Ascending the mountains and imprinting the Jenu at its peak will be the hardest thing Balt and his friends have ever done. When they reach the top, it's possible they might not even succeed.

And in all likelihood, they won't."

As usual, I won't include any spoilers for The Cloud Roost, but there will likely be some spoilers for the first 1-4 books as I recap some of what has happened before, so do be aware! I have reviews for books 1-4 up on my blog as well, so feel free to visit any one of those if you aren't at book five yet.

The Cloud Roost continues the tumultuous journey we've thus far embarked upon with Balt, Alani, and all the friends they've made along the way. After their encounters with the Facet on Yuluhu Island and some discoveries made about Alani's abilities, the gang are now on Kou Tekkis where Balt and his cousin, Wasaaru, have decided that their best shot at saving everyone on Pakree is to imprint a legendary Jenu, Sawarestao–no big deal, since people imprint enormous legendary Jenus everyday, right? (In case you missed it, that was sarcasm. It's actually a huge deal and not something people do everyday.) With this daunting task in front of them, the group begins to prepare, which includes preparation for hiking the mountains of Kou Tekkis to even reach the place where Sawarestao resides.

We once again meet up with Balt, Alani, Niona, Aeiko, and Brine for the journey, only this time we add Wasaaru, Balt's cousin, to the group. This group has been through so much together and it's been a ride to watch them all grow and develop from it. The evolution of Balt and Wasaaru's relationship has been one of my favorite things to see in this series, as it's not something I necessarily expected, but has turned out to be a very natural and engaging development. I feel like this falls in line with a lot of the general growth we've seen Balt experience throughout this series, as he has really matured a lot in this relatively short but seemingly long period of time. It's been a joy to see that growth occur not only in regard to his skills as a Summoner, but also within his personal views and relationships with those around him. Wasaaru has also seemingly matured a lot over the times we've seen him, and it's been interesting to see how the two make amends and relearn how to be something close to friends. 

Alani has been struggling with her place in the church, and this continues as she nears the final Veptilo on her pilgrimage and must come to terms with where she stands. This has been a storyline that I've been really drawn to, not just because I think it's shown a really great example of character growth and development, but also because I feel I can somewhat relate to some of the struggles she has experienced. Her realization that the church has been something she's been a part of largely due to it providing her something to do and somewhere to live, but not necessarily because she feels passionately about it is a type of complacency that I think a lot of us can empathize with. It's extremely daunting to consider striking out on your own when you don't have any idea what else you might want to do, and I've loved watching Alani undertake this journey of discovery, no matter what she ends up choosing to do and whether it's with the church or not. 

Niona has recently been offered representation by an agency for her Summoning career, which has really boosted her spirits and offered some additional insight into what it could be like to be a Summoner in this world. I've really liked her casual, 'go get 'em' type of attitude that I think acts as a strong foil to characters like Alani who are a bit more inhibited and law abiding. There's honestly a little something for everyone in all of these characters. 

Aeiko and Brine continue to be some truly stalwart companions on this trip and I always appreciate their contributions. I've loved watching Brine slowly develop a bit of personality and loyalty, and Aeiko's support to the group–both moral support and support due to their intelligence–has been critical to the group's success. I'm excited to see where things go with these two in the final books. 

And just when you think you've already met an abundance of Jekuas, there are even more introduced in this book. The majority of the Jekuas we come across in this book are those that reside in the mountains of Kou Tekkis, and they seem to be on an entirely different level than those we've met in different locations. These Jekua are larger, more aggressive, and much more dangerous, which really puts everything Balt, Niona, and Wasaaru have been learning and practicing to the test. I really enjoyed seeing these three work together in some pretty high stress situations to take down some of the largest Jekua threats we've come across in this series. 

I'd also like to touch on the world-building, as I've truly enjoyed how Riddle has allowed his characters and readers alike to explore different areas of this world on a journey together. I love that the entire plot setup has built in the need to visit all the different islands and explore the different cultures, landmarks, food, Jekuas, and much more that inhabit each place. There's always something new to explore and in so many different settings that it's made it a joy to be a part of the ride.

This choice to have our characters moving around and exploring different places has also allowed the pacing to remain fairly consistent and never really allows for boredom because there's always something new to check out with each book. I've mentioned multiple times in previous reviews how much fun I've had with this series and how easy it's felt for me to really become immersed in this vibrant and exciting world, and that remains true for The Cloud Roost. There is a perfect mix of downtime, character development, thoughtful discussions, and of course plenty action with Jekuas that makes it work as a really well balanced book and series. Everything is finally fully setup for the final installment and I am both eager and a little sad to know that (hopefully) everything will be figured out and settled by the end of the next book. But I absolutely cannot wait for the rest of this adventure!

Overall, it's another unsurprising but well-deserved five stars from me for The Cloud Roost! If you haven't started the Jekua series yet then you probably shouldn't have read this review, but you should  start reading this series because it's an adventure that's full of heart, extraordinary friendships, vibrant world-building, captivating creatures, enthralling battles, endless twists, and timeless journeys of discovery.

*I received a copy of The Cloud Roost in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

Buy the book: Amazon 

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