Title: The Jewel and Her Lapidary
Author: Fran Wilde
Release Date: May 23rd, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Novella
The kingdom in the valley has long sheltered under the protection of its Jewels and lapidaries, the people bound to the singing gemstones with the power to reshape hills, move rivers, and warp minds. That power has kept the peace and tranquility, and the kingdom has flourished.
Jewel Lin and her lapidary, Sima, may be the last to enjoy that peace.
The Jeweled Court has been betrayed. As screaming raiders sweep down from the mountains and lapidary servants shatter under the pressure, the last princess of the valet will have to summon up a strength she’s never known. If she can assume her royal dignity, and if Sima can mas the most dangerous gemstone in the land, they may be able to survive.
My First Thoughts:
I ran across this book at Balticon 2016 in Baltimore Maryland. I was working as a volunteer there and I had some time to take a look at all the book and author stands there. I found this book at a table with a bunch of books by other authors, and something about the cover drew me. I’ve seen other stories that deal with the power of gems and crystals, but this story appeared to be different and it really intrigued me.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a novella, and honestly, I had to read this book a couple times before I wrote this review. I didn’t reread it because I couldn’t understand the story, oh no! I reread this story so that I could absorb everything I could of the tale and the world the author created. Like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that was less than a hundred pages, so I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss a beat and gave this story a proper review.
I find that some short stories are really hard to get into, especially if they’re set in a world that hasn’t already been established. However, Fran Wilde did a fantastic job creating the world of her story in so few pages! There was culture, history, and whole customs described as the story unfolded that really opened up the word for the reader. And it was so interesting that she chose to start her story with a little entry from a fictional tour guide book about the area the story was set in. Even as the story goes on, Fran Wilde evenly breaks up the story with these little entries that tie in with the rest of the story. It was interesting to read the entries that are about the present day Jeweled Valley and their various landmarks and then read about the story set way in the past. It was as if the author went to this fictional Jeweled Valley, looked at all the landmarks and noticed that they’re all connected, and thought ‘hm, there must be some sort of story behind all these, I wonder what it is’. I’ve never run into that kind of storytelling before; it was rather fun and spoke to the historian in me, since I would do something similar when I’m out exploring. Sure, it was a little off putting at first, but I really got into shortly after the story started.
The pacing in the story was wonderful as well. There was a definite rise, a final conflict, and then a conclusion and all within ninety pages. Now, the conclusion is a bit open ended because there are still parts of the story that some readers may want to be told. However, I found that the author did such a fantastic job with her characters and her storytelling, that if readers really paid attention, then they can guess how the rest of the story would end without being told. That’s a wonderful, and rare skill amongst authors to be able to weave their story so well that the readers know how it ends without being told.
Speaking of her characters, Lin and Sima were just wonderful to read. Both girls seem rather small, without a lot of strength or inner power when the story first begins. However, as the conflict unfolds these girls really bloom and it was exciting to see their transformations under stress and dire circumstances. Each girl reveals an inner strength that was dazzling to see, and actually rather motivating, showing that someone that was weak like them could come out stronger through the harshest adversities. It’s through the two of them that Fran Wilde really showed the readers the culture of their world, and just what it meant to be a Jewel and a lapidary.
Her idea about the gems and precious stones actually speaking to people and using them to affect other individuals was brilliant! Sure gems and precious stones have been used in similar fashions before in fantasies and other stories, but this was the first time that they were given such character. It was the first story that I read in which a person could hear a normally inanimate object speak to them, and that they could speak to the object and either be controlled by it or use it to control other people, or protect them. Wonderful concept indeed and it was fun thinking about all the ins and outs about it. Personally, I would have liked there to be more explanation behind the gems mentioned and why they had their affects, for instance, blue topaz whispering courage while battle opal spoke vengeance. However, the lack of that information doesn’t affect the story, now if it were longer then maybe. Knowing that the author spent some time with a jeweler, it would be interesting to know if there was a process or reasoning behind the gems she mentioned and their powers.
This novella is a wonderful read for any fantasy lover! It’s a nice, short story to read in between larger novels or to curl up with on a rainy day. I would recommend this book to anyone; really, I doubt that there’s a reader out there that I wouldn’t recommend it to. Fran Wilde’s storytelling is beautiful, her attention to detail is spectacular, and I would just love to see a glimpse of her mind one day. I would love to pack up my bags and visit this Jeweled Valley she described so well, but alas it’s impossible.
The Jewel and her Lapidary is a beautifully written novella that just swept me off my feet, both times I read it! Lin and Sima were just marvelous, and they shined along with the world Fran Wilde created. After reading this fantasy I can’t wait to get my hands on her other novels and read them too!