Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday Morning Coffee - Allie's War by JC Andrijeski

Wow, do I ever have a treat for you guys this morning! I am a book snob, and I admit it. So when I find a story that forces my imagination to keep the characters alive long after I've put a book down, I am intrigued. Or is the word "obsessed" ? Well, whatever. My Thursday Morning Coffee fiction spotlight is on JC Andrijeski's Allies War series. There are four epic length (we're talking 400 - 500 pages, folks) novels available NOW, right this minute, and JC has chained herself to her cute little desk with a view of the Himalayan mountains swearing to write the fifth. I don't think her readership is looming over her with whips and chains, but I could be wrong about that.

Rook: Book One
In December I discovered this really great series - and when I say "great" I mean my family quickly realized that when I started a new Allie's War book, they might as well ask for and expect NOTHING from me until I was finished, because this story is all but impossible to put down, even for a minute. Or say the eight agonizing hours one has to spend at work.

The first book is titled Rook and you can buy it from Amazon or Smashwords, and other ebook retailers. Same with books Two, Three, and Four. There is also a short prequel (if you consider 100+ pages "short") that I believe is only available from Amazon, called New York: Allie's War Early Years.

Shield: Book Two

In the world created by JC Andrijeski, there are humans and there are seers. The average human is aware of seers, and the average seer is a slave or pet that belongs to a human. This is the initial framework - but seers are so much more than slaves - their species can access a metaphysical realm through their "light" (which is a bit like spirit) called the Barrier, and while in the Barrier they are psychic, in a sense.

Sword: Book Three
The female protagonist, Allie, has always believed herself to be human, and it isn't until she is kidnapped by seer Revik that she finds out differently. But Allie is no average seer - she is more or less a reincarnated seer goddess with an astonishing genetic ability for telekinesis. This makes her politically valuable to both seer and human societies.

Allie navigates the seer world with Revik as her guide. She stumbles. She fails to understand many things about seer culture. And she accidentally marries Revik in the Barrier - but no one tells her. Revik himself doesn't even tell her, mostly because he is incredibly broken, and he is afraid to trap Allie into a bond with him that she might not want.
Shadow: Book Four

The tension and penchant for misunderstanding between Allie and Revik will keep your heart aching as you desperately turn pages, wanting everything to be all right.

From a reader point of view, this is the best kind of book - the kind that makes me wonder how I ever walked around happily living my life without knowing this story.

From a writer point of view, I hope that I can someday build a story world this complete, and characters a reader will come to care for as much as I care for Allie and Revik. 

New York: Prequel Short Story

JC has invested a lot of time and imagination into Allie's War, and it shows. From religion, to politics, to mythology - from wonderful good guys to truly evil bad guys, I urge you to enter the world of Allie's War, and then dare you to try to climb out.

Disclaimer: I don't think JC will mind, but here's a disclaimer: This is one of my favorite scenes, so I typed it here word for word. Any typos are mine. Don't get the wrong idea and think this is a "quiet" book, either - the Allie's War series is about as action-packed as a story can be. This just happens to be a "resting" scene. ~SM Johnson)*

*Excerpt from Rook: Allie's War Book One

I choke... choked... am choking... caught inside a clutched fist of light, an egg-shaped pocket that holds me in place. There, I birth. The turning planet brings stars in a pale swath, sky broken by sharp eyes and lightning flashes, snaking charges of gold and orange and crimson, the late side of the setting sun.

The pain worsens, a spike that arcs, a taste before it keens steeply up, inexorable, becoming gradually more unbearable, until I am sure my insides will be ripped out, torn into so many pieces there is nothing left.

Beyond it, a golden ocean beckons. It is familiar.

He is there too.

I'm sorry, he says. It's not why I asked for you --

Shhh. My voice is steady, somehow apart from the lights clashing, the ghosts winging overhead. Revik, it's all right.

Don't leave me, Allie. Don't leave me alone with this...

The pain worsens again, makes it hard to see.

Still, the words come easily, without thought or regret.

I won't, I tell him. I never will.

There is a question in this... one that shocks his heart.

Before I've understood either the question or the possible answers, he's agreed. A surrender lives in that agreement, what is almost shame. He clasps my fingers, and I see tears in his eyes. They bewilder me, touch me somehow through the pain and he pulls me closer until...

He kisses me. It is a brief kiss. Clumsy, awkward, almost tender... meaning lives there, more meaning than I can comprehend.

I feel him agree again...

...and the night sky disappears.

Above us, light weaves into complicated patterns, in and out like a shuttlecock between silk threads. I have a fleeing impression of time removed. The weaving of the threads grows more and more complicated, more subtle. I watch a painting form, a painting of diamond light, in a pattern too beautiful for words. My struggle stops, even as pain melts into warm breath, a feeling of ending that somehow... doesn't... can't.

I know, somehow.

I feel it in him, too, a surge of familiar.

The feeling is so dense, I can't see past it. A timelessness lives in that sense of the familiar, something I can't explain to myself, something I understand without words, without really understanding it at all.

Something is... different.

I don't know it yet, but it will never be the same again.


  1. FANTASTIC review! Wow mine is SO dry comparatively! I really am glad I was able to find you within the tribe! Have thoroughly enjoyed reading everything here!

  2. And I take credit for introducing you all. :)

  3. Yes, Coral, you DO get credit for the introduction! And thank you, Kriss for the enthusiasm. I am trying hard to grow this blog, so your comment is much appreciated. JC and I have formed a mutual admiration society - lol! I really do love these books. So far I've also liked her other books, too, but this series really captured me.