BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Book Review: Daughter of the Sun



Title: Daughter of the Sun (Tales of Inthya Book Two)

Publisher: NineStar Press

Author: Effie Calvin

Pages: 273 pp

Price: $15.99 / $5.99

Orsina of Melidrie is a paladin, sworn to the service of the God Iolar. She wanders the land of Vesolda, rooting out corruption and evil -- particularly demonic and divine evil. As such, slaying the mortal form of Aelia, the Goddess of Caprice, and sending her back to the immortal realm is just another day at work. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Orsina, Aelia isn't exorcised. Instead, she is trapped in her mortal body. And when they meet again, Orsina offers her protection to the woman she knows only as Elyne; and as they travel together across Vesolda, Aelia begins to wonder what it means to be human, what it means to be a Goddess, and if she can truly change and win the heart of a noble paladin ....

I was looking for something new and interesting to read, so when I saw a description of Daughter of the Sun on netgalley, I decided to give it a shot. I am so glad that I did. Daughter of the Sun is definitely one of my favorite books from this year. I loved the world and I loved the characters, and I can't wait to visit it again.

First, the world: Inthya is the mortal realm, composed of the usual human nation-states. Some are allies, some are enemies. There are elves, too, but they are evil (no, really, they're bad) and to be avoided at all costs; there are also mer and dragons and assorted monsters. And there are Gods. So many Gods. Officially, only The Ten are honored by mortals, those Deities of order and civilization who created and help to maintain the world; Iolar, for example (order and justice), and Dayluue (love and lust) and Pemele (marriage) and Eyvindr (agriculture). But beyond The Ten there are hundreds, even thousands, of minor Deities; humans classify them as Gods of Chaos, but they vary from the benignly neglectful to amoral tricksters to the downright malevolent. It is these beings whom Orsina and her fellow paladins must root out and destroy -- or, send back to the divine realm, at least. No Deity can actually be killed, but, if their human form is killed, it can take them a few decades to work their way back to Inthya. And the more worshippers a Deity has, the more powerful they are; Iolar is virtually untouchable, he has so many followers, whereas Aelia has -- well -- none.

Additionally, the Divine reality of male, female, and neutroi Deities is reflected among mortals. Nonbinary neutroi are referred to as they/them, and everyone -- male, female, neutroi -- is treated equally. Orsina's childhood crush Perlita becomes Countess on the death of her father, and, during their travels, Orsina and Aelia attend the wedding of a woman and a neutroi. Nor are people defined by their sexuality; Orsina has two fathers and, while she is primarily attracted to women, she has no objections to falling in love with and marrying a man or neutroi.

The story focuses equally on Orsina and Aelia. We get to see this world, and how they gradually change, through the eyes of both of them. Orsina might seem stuck up at first, but she is actually deeply compassionate and committed to making the world just and fair; meeting Aelia and realizing that she has fallen in love with a Goddess of Chaos -- and that maybe a Goddess of Chaos isn't so bad after all -- completely upends her worldview. Aelia, in turn, starts out hating and fearing Orsina; she dislikes being stuck "in meat" and finds her body ridiculously clumsy and needy. But, the more time she spends in the mortal realm, getting to know people as individuals, coming to understand their fears and desires, the more she begins to question what she has been for the last fourteen billion years.

Daughter of the Sun is exciting (demons! wraiths! betrayal! narrow escapes! conspiracies! evil Gods!) and sweetly romantic. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, or as part of the Tales of Inthya series. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a polytheistic epic fantasy romance, and to fans of Ilona Andrews, Amanda Bouchet, Rebecca Chastain, Megan Derr, and Seanan McGuire.

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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