Auralia's Colors

Auralia's Colors

by Jeffrey Overstreet

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400072521
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/04/2007
Series: Auralia Strand Series , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 695,274
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of three previous books in The Auralia Thread fantasy series. Publisher’s Weekly called Auralia’s Colors a story “precise and beautiful… masterfully told,” and it was a dual finalist for a Christy Award. An award-winning film reviewer, he has written a moviegoer’s memoir, Through a Screen Darkly, and contributes regularly to Image and other journals. He lives in Shoreline, Washington and works at Seattle Pacific University.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Old Thieves Make a Discovery

Auralia lay still as death, like a discarded doll, in a burgundy tangle of rushes and spineweed on the bank of a bend in the River Throanscall, when she was discovered by an old man who did not know her name.

She bore no scars, no broken bones, just the stain of inkblack soil. Contentedly, she cooed, whispered, and babbled, learning the river’s language, and focused her gaze on the stormy dance of evening sky–roiling purple clouds edged with blood red. The old man surmised she was waiting and listening for whoever, or whatever, had forsaken her there.

Those fevered moments of his discovery burnt into the old man’s memory. In the years that followed, he would hold and turn them in his mind the way an explorer ponders relics he has found in the midst of ruin. But the mystery remained stubbornly opaque. No matter how often he exaggerated the story to impress his fireside listeners–“I dove into that ragin’ river and caught her by the toe!” “I fought off that hungry river wyrm with my picker-staff just in time!”–he found no clue to her origins, no answers to questions of why or how.

The Gatherers, House Abascar, the Expanse–the whole world might have been different had he left her there with riverwater running from her hair. “The River Girl”–that was what the Gatherers came to call her until she grew old enough to set them straight. Without the River Girl, the four houses of the Expanse might have perished in their troubles. But then again, some say that without the River Girl those troubles might never have come at all.

This is how the spark was struck.

A ruckus of crows caught Krawg’s attention as he groped for berries deep in a bramble. He and Warney, the conspirator with whom he had been caught thieving so many years ago, were laboring to pay their societal debts to House Abascar. The day had been long, but Krawg’s spirits were high. No officers had come to reckon their work and berate them. Not yet. Tired of straining for latesummer apples high in the boughs of ancient trees, they had put down their picker-staffs and turned to plucking sourjuice and jewelweed bushes an applecore’s throw from the Throanscall.

Warney was preoccupied, trying to free his thorn-snagged sleeves and leggings.

So Krawg smiled, dropped his harvesting sack, and crept away to investigate the cause of the birds’ cacophony. He hoped to find them eying an injured animal, maybe a broad-antlered buck he could finish off and present to the duty officers. That would be a prize grand enough to deserve preparation in King Cal-marcus’s kitchens. Such a discovery might bring Krawg closer to the king’s grace and a pardon.

“Aw, will you look at that?” Krawg flexed his bony fingers. The feathered curmudgeons flapped at the air over the riverbank, their gaze fixed on a disturbance in the grass.

“Now, hold on!” called his even bonier friend. “Whatcha got there? Wait for me!” Twigs snapped and fabric ripped, but Warney made no progress. “Speak up now, what’re them flappers squawkin’ over? Are beastmen coming to kill us?”

“Stop spookin’, fraidy-brain,” Krawg growled, and then he gusted air through his nostrils. “There won’t be no beastman savages out here in the afternoon.”

“What is it then? Merchants?”

“No merchants.”

“Is it a swarm of stingers?”

“Nope.”

“A fangbear? River wyrms? Bramblepigs?”

“Don’t think so.”

“Some young buster sneakin’ up behind us? Come on now. What’s got them birds so bothered?”

According to his nature, Krawg tossed back a lie. “They’re just fightin’ over a mess of reekin’ twister fish they snatched out of the shallows.” Groundwater closed over his feet as he made his way through the reeds on the riverbank. Increasingly perturbed by the way Krawg was stalking their target, the crows descended to the branch of a stooping cottonbeard tree and pelted him with insults.

As Krawg combed the grasses for an answer, Warney at last emerged from the trees with worry in his one good eye, gripping as if it were a hunting spear the long, clawed picker-staff he had used all day to drag down the higher appleboughs.

Warney seemed barely more than a skeleton wrapped in loose flesh and a rough burlap cloak. “What are they fussin’ about now if they’ve gone and eaten their fill?”

Krawg’s vulturebeak nose twitched in the middle of the few undisciplined whiskers that grew where a mustache did not. He leaned forward, apprehensive, and saw not a pile of fish bones but two tiny pink hands reaching into the air.

“One of the fish has got hands!” gasped Warney.

“Shush now! It isn’t a pile of fish.” Krawg took hold of the appleknife in his pocket. “Whatever it is, it’s harmless, I’m sure.”

Warney glanced back at the woods. “Don’t forget to watch for you-knowwho. Duty officers’ll haul us in, bottom ’n’ blockhead, if they catch us messin’ with anything other than them berries. They’ll ride their stinkin’ lizards right through here soon. Come on now…there’s a nice bramble just back here. You don’t want the duty to string us up in the hangers, do ya?”

“Good creepin’ Cragavar forest, of all the bloody wonders I ever seen…

Looky!” The braver Gatherer flipped his black hood back from his hairless head and bent to examine the child. Warney remained where he was. “Krawg, you’re givin’ me the shut-mouth again. What is it, old boy?”

“Just a creepin’, crawlin’ baby, it is.” Krawg massaged the flab beneath his chin. “Mercy, Warney, look at her.”

“It’s a her? How do you know?”

“Well, howdaya think I know?” Krawg reached for the child, then thought better of it. “Warney, this must mean somethin’. You and me…findin’ this.”He scanned the spaces between trees on both sides of the mist-shrouded river and confirmed that the only witnesses were crows and a tailtwitcher that clung upside down to the trunk of a birch.

Warney splashed into the river shallows and prodded the submerged ground with his picker-staff before each step. The weeds around his ankles whispered hushhh…hushhh…hushhh.

The child convulsed twice. She coughed up droplets of water. And then she made a sound that might have been a laugh.

“Now that’s odd.” Krawg gestured to the child’s tiny head. “She got brown and silver hairs. She’s seen at least two seasons, I’d say. Probably born before that hard freeze we had awhile back.”

“Yeah, gotta ’gree with ya there.” Warney’s eye was white as a sparrow’s egg in the shadows of his hood.

“And she’s not the spawn of those beastmen. Everything about her seems like a good baby girl, not some accursed cross between person and critter. Looks like she’s been fed and looked after too…well, until she got tossed into the river, I suppose.”

“Gotta ’gree with ya there.”Warney now leaned over the child, swaying like a scarecrow in the wind. “She’s better fed than any of us Gatherers…or crows, for that matter.”

The crows were quiet, watching, picking at their sharp toes. Krawg knelt and took to picking at his toes as well, poking at yellow places, which meant he was thinking hard. “We’re too far east of House Bel Amica for her to belong to them proud and greedy folk. But how could she be from our good House Abascar? Folk from Abascar only step out of the house walls if
King Cal-marcus tells ’em to. Too scared of beastmen, they are…these days.”

“Gotta ’gree with ya there.”

“Do you always gotta ’gree with me there?!” Krawg snatched the pickerstaff from Warney’s hands and clubbed his hooded head. Warney jumped away, growled, and bared his teeth. Krawg tossed the staff aside and rose up like a bear answering the challenge of a rat. Warney, like a rat realizing he has awakened a bear, fled back toward the quiet woods.

“Now don’t you get it in your head to leave me here with this orphan,” Krawg called, “or I’ll rip that patch off your dead eye!”

“Have ya thought…”Warney paused, turned, and clasped his head with both hands, as if trying to stretch his mind to accommodate a significant thought. “Has it occurred to ya that… Do ya think…”

“Speak, you rangy crook!”

“Oh ballyworms, Krawg! What if she’s a Northchild?”

Krawg stumbled back a step and narrowed his eyes at the infant. The tailtwitcher, the crows, and even the river seemed to quiet at Warney’s question.

But Krawg at last shook off worry. “Don’t shovel that vawn pile my way, Warney.You been eatin’ too much of Yawny’s stew, and your dreams are gettin’ to you. Only crazies think Northchildren are actual. There’s no such thing.”

They watched the baby’s hands sculpt shapes in the air. “And anyway,” Krawg continued, glancing northward at the sky purpling over the jagged mountains of the Forbidding Wall, “everybody knows Northchildren are taller, and they drape blankets over themselves.”

Nearby, branches broke with sharp echoes as something moved in the woods.

“Grab for a weapon,” hissed Warney, “because I smell prowling beastmen!”

“Doubtful,” said Krawg, but he bent his knees and sank into the grass.

“Duty officers then!”

In case their overseers were, in fact, looking for them, Krawg shouted, “We better get back to the patches, Warney! I sure don’t see any berries out here.”

He lifted Warney’s picker-staff and marched to join his friend in the trees. But Warney seemed stuck, as though the girl had tossed a rope and snared his ankle. “You know what they say. If a man leaves a good deed undone, Northchildren will come creepin’ at night and drag him off into the curse of the–”

“I’m not scared of you, butt-guster,” Krawg whispered. “Now hush before anybody hears you!” The girl, aware that she was alone again, began to murmur as if talking with someone they could not see. The Gatherers watched her clap her tiny hands.

A crow took wing from the cottonbeard tree and made a wide circle over the child’s bed.
“They want that fresh meat,” Krawg observed. Warney nodded. “Gotta ’gree with ya…” His mouth snapped shut, and he winced.

Krawg loosed a weary sigh, waved a scornful gesture at the birds, and returned to kneel beside the baby. Warney hopped back to peer over Krawg’s shoulder. “What’s that she’s lyin’ in? That isn’t a sinkhole.”

“No, somebody carved out this hole with their hands.”

“Not with their hands, no. Look, Krawg…toes. This Northchild’s lyin’ in a footprint!”

Warney’s grin signified a victory. “Gotta disagree with ya there!”

The child had gone quiet and still. And that was what Krawg would remember for the rest of his troubled life–the moment when her eyes gathered sunset’s burning hues and flickered with some element he had never seen; the way she rested, as though commanded to surrender by some voice only she could hear; the way he clenched his jaw, made his decision.

A wave of wind carried a few slow leaves, a shower of twirling seedpods from the violet trees, spiders on newly flung strands, and a hint of distant music–the Early Evening Verse sung by the watchman of House Abascar to mark the dusk of the day.

“Oh, our backs are strapped now. They’ll string us upside down for certain. It’s late, and we’re bound to be found missin’.”Warney’s eye rolled to fix on the sun’s fading beacons. “Let’s turn the baby over to the first officer we see, and maybe–”

“What do you think a duty officer sees when he looks at us, Warney? I’m the Midnight Swindler, and you’re the One-Eyed Bandit! They’ll say we swiped this baby from somewhere. We already been punished for our thievin’.

They made us live outside the walls as Gatherers, and there’s only one shelf in the pantry lower than that: the dungeons.” Krawg threw the picker-staff down– splack!–against the wet ground. “I can’t hand her over, but I can’t leave her either. If I do, some officer’ll ride through here and stomp her into the ground. We’ve got to take her. And hide her.”

“Ballyworms!”Warney shuddered. “You ’n’ me ’n a Northchild ’n’ all!” A commotion erupted just south of the marsh. First came a three-toned bellow, which the Gatherers recognized as the complaint of a vawn, one of the duty officers’ reptilian steeds. Then came the din of crushed bracken and shaken trees. It was certainly an officer come to measure their progress.

Krawg bent low and lifted the naked child by the arms. “She’s harmless. Didn’t cast no spell on me. Didn’t drag me off into darkness. She isn’t a Northchild! There’s no such thing.”

“Well, let’s hurry it up then,” said Warney, grinning in spite of his fear.

A few minutes later Krawg and Warney reached the shelter of thatched grass roofs and crooked mud walls in the woods just outside House Abascar’s boundary.There, the kinder sort among the Gatherers would tend to the River Girl’s needs and protect her from the dangerous sort.

Warney clapped a hand over his mouth, muffling a laugh. “Don’t it bring back memories, Krawg? Sneakin’ off with treasure like this?”

“Warney,” Krawg replied, “we’ve never, never lifted treasure like this.” Krawg and Warney weren’t punished for carrying back the child. But they were “strung up in the hangers” and dangled from their ankles there a full day, scraping the filthy gutters of their vocabulary, when it was discovered they had returned without their designated picker-staffs.

Meanwhile, at the river’s edge, water seeped from the soil into the footprint, turned to mud, and solidified. A mist rose, hovered over the place, then wisped away without wind to carry it. It would remain a mystery and a memory to the three men who had found it there–the two troubled Gatherers and one other.

Just after Krawg and Warney had absconded with the child, a solitary rider emerged from the trees and sighted that damp impression in the grass.

The young rider, small and eager, dismounted and studied the outline even as it began to fade. He pulled from the earth a riverstone and touched the face of it with his fingertips, where a dull magic blurred. The stone’s color warmed, and it softened to clay under his touch.

Sensing the magic, the crows on the cottonbeard branch shrieked and scattered.

The boy etched a mark in the stone as similar to the contours of the footprint as he could–a sculpture, an equivalent. Then he walked up and down the banks awhile, surveying the soil. When the vawn snorted impatiently, he returned and climbed back into his ornate saddle. The two-legged steed stomped off, happy to head away from the water and into the trees.

No one knew of the rider’s visit to the river. No one saw the record of his discovery, which he kept like a clue to a riddle. And he locked his questions up tight for fear of troubling the volatile storms within the heart of his father, the king.

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Auralia's Colors 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 99 reviews.
cherryblossommj on LibraryThing 10 months ago
What an interesting story Jeff has woven together through the novel of "Auralia's Colors". This is a story to set sometime aside to read and let it soak in. I will bet that this is one that would even fascinate my husband to read. Sections in this book lost my interest, and I wanted to walk away, but I am glad that I did not because all in all it was quite an enjoyable journey and I plan to read the rest of the Threads as they present themselves. I found the atmosphere for me was very reminiscent of [author: Stephen Lawhead], especially his lately series including [book: Hood], [book:Scarlet}, and in 2009 [book: Tuck]. As a Fantasy novel, this is one of those that you fall into and forget about what is real and what is not. That is one of the hardest parts for me, but once I click into the world, I do not want to leave. I'm so glad that I have [book: Cyndere's Midnight] that I can jump into right away. If you enjoy Lawhead, or Toilken, or Madeleine L'Engle, I do believe that you will find enjoyment through the creative prose that is practically poetry in the writings of Jeffrey Overstreet.
debs4jc on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Overstreet skiillfully creates a fantasy world which parrallels the Christian story. In this first installment, we meet Auralia, a foundling who is brought up by the gatherers--criminals who are forced to live outside the city walls of their medieval type world. Auralia's origin is mysterious, as are her ways. The kingdom where she lives is under a law that banishes the common folk from wearing color--but Auralia loves to collect different things from her world to create colorful objects. She also likes to talk of the keeper--a mysterious guardian-like (or God like) creature that most adults scorn as a myth. But not all feel this way, as glimpses into the lives of the prince and his mysterious tutor show. Discovering the truth behind this worlds' mythic lore is what makes this an enjoyable read.
julied on LibraryThing 10 months ago
this was a complete surprise. A queen is jealous of the other three great Houses of the land. She convinces the king that to make their House they must collect all art, and indeed everything containing color, to themselves. The people are relegated to giving up their treasures and wearing only whites, grays, and browns, with badges of honor for their sacrifices being the only color in their lives. An orphan girl, found as an infant in the wilderness by outlaws, has a talent for crafting colors that do more than look beautiful. This innate talent unsettles the imposed order and sets in train a violent change for the king and his people.There is no way I can adequately describe this book except to say that what sounds like most outrageous fantasy is actually grounded in the underlying hard reality of those "truths" recognized by all great storytellers. I am loathe to say too much for fear of deriving readers of the pleasure of discovering these underlying themes for themselves. I read this book in three days because every time I picked it up I simply could not put it down.Author Jeffrey Overstreet gives credit to many recognized great authors for being his inspiration but I think it is fair to say that this is not derivative. He has crafted something completely new that shows us those old realities of which we all need to be reminded through art. Probably my highest tribute is to say that this book can be enjoyed by everyone, whether simply lovers of fiction or those who look for, as Overstreet says, "a glimmer of his [the Great Artist] glory in these pages." I eagerly look forward to the next installment of this trilogy.
sunshineface on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Was very difficult for me to get into at first, took longer than usual to read but it did have a good story and at the end it got more exciting. I am curious if the next will be better?
alissamarie on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I really don't do fantasy - Narnia is about it, and mostly because Lewis's snark amuses me - but this is good stuff. The writing is good, the story is significant without being overtly allegorical, and it ends really well. If you love fantasy, this is a must-read (and it's being followed by three more). And even if you don't, it's worth a shot.
krau0098 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I was excited to read this book based on the reviews I had read. It is written in a lush and poetic style; which I usually love. However somehow this book managed to make the characters and setting somehow seem stiff and unreal despite the delicate prose of the book.Aurelia was found as a toddler by a river. She is raised by the Gatherers, people who have been thrown out of the walls of the city for various crimes. Many years ago the Queen forbade colors; all color belongs only to the upper class. Unfortunately for Aurelia she excels in finding color in everything and the palace wants her for the their own. Will Aurelia succeed in giving the commonfolk back their colors?As I said the writing is beautifully done. The story unfortunately did not grab me. The writer constantly switches viewpoint between tons of different characters and I found that very distracting. It was hard to get involved or really care about any of the characters. The writing style, despite its beauty, did little to bring the scenes in the book alive for me. I also found the story in general to be a very dull read, it moved forward at a very deliberate pace. I had a lot of trouble getting through this book.The imagine my shock (not knowing Overstreet is a Christian writer) when the whole story drops any pretense of creativity and becomes just another retelling of the story of Christ. The parallels between the story of Christ and Aurelia were painfully transparent and the ending of the book had my eyeballs rolling as the characters and story were pushed aside to pull everything together into a perfect retelling of the classic religious story.In summary, the story starts out beautifully written but the writing and characters are dry, the plot creeps along and is a bit schizophrenic because of the multitude of viewpoints it is told from. I had a lot of trouble getting through this book. Then when the whole pretense of a creative story was dropped to re-deliver a story of Christ that has been delivered a million times before it just added to my ire. I won't be reading anymore of Overstreet's books; they are just too boring and preachy for me.
kcpavlik on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I received The Ale Boy's feast (4th in the series) in the Early Reviewers. Because it is the 4th in the series I decided I wanted to read the ones before it. So while I read all 4 books directly after each other I'm going to review all 4.The first book is Auralia's Colors. I only sort of liked this first book. While a lot of the descriptions were quite lovely I found it a bit shallow. It was only meh.The second book is Cyndere's midnight. As I read this one I realized how wrong I was about Auralia's colors. The author has in no way created a shallow world. The farther I got into the story the more impressed I was at how he dropped subtle tid-bits into the first book that were developed more in the second book. Here I began to truly develop an attachment to the characters and their stories and struggles.The third book is Raven's Ladder... again, I was floored at how complex and compelling this story has become. The history and myth of everything evolves in such an organic way. The characters define themselves more and more as the story goes along. It's like I got to know them as one would in real life... not how many stories are where everything is laid out before you right away. I never would have believed as I was reading Auralia's colors that this story could become so rich and complex.And finally is the ale boy's feast. The conclusion of the books... not necessarily the conclusion of the story. (Which I always love.) 80 pages from the end I had no idea how the author was going to give me the satisfying ending that I wanted. I had so many questions that needed to be answered, I was terrified I was going to be massively disappointed that he has created bit off more than he could chew and he had tangled this story so tightly that there was no way he could connect all the pieces back together in the end... well I should have known... it was perfect. Beautiful even. I loved these books. It was a rich, compelling, suspenseful, beautiful, and enlightening world. I'm happy I was able to spend some time there.I'm glad I know how Krawg's story ended. :)
rj_anderson on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Auralia's Colors, published by Waterbrook Press, is the first fantasy released by a specifically Christian publisher that I have read in quite some time. However, I kept hearing good things about it, so when I came across it accidentally while browsing through Chapters a couple of months ago, I decided to pick it up.When I started reading the book I could tell right off the bat, even if I hadn't heard rumors of this already, that author Jeffrey Overstreet shares some of my own favorite books and influences -- specifically Patricia A. McKillip and Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books. The rich, lyrical tone of the language Overstreet uses is definitely McKillipesque, and the world he creates blends the transcendent, the mysterious, the humble and the grotesque in a way that's reminiscent of Peake. Still, even if the influences are evident I was pleased to note that the setup of Overstreet's fantasy world didn't strike me as overly derivative of other classic fantasy works -- Overstreet does have his own fertile imagination and his book reflects that.The problem is, even though I finished the book a couple of days ago, I'm still undecided as to how I feel about it. If you've ever tried to get a book published, you know how agents and editors sometimes give you that deadly phrase, "I liked it, but I didn't love it"? I think that's how I feel about Auralia's Colors. I really wanted to love it wholeheartedly, but it didn't quite happen for me. The omniscient narration and the constantly shifting focus of the story kept me from being able to latch onto any of the characters and really come to know or love them the way I'd hoped. The beautiful language sometimes served to obscure what was going on rather than to illuminate it (which is also a problem I've sometimes had with McKillip), and the emphasis on external narration rather than action, dialogue or internal monologue made it difficult for me to connect emotionally to the characters. There's one scene where Auralia experiences a shattering realization about her destiny, a pivotal point in the book, where I truly did feel connected to her and involved in her inner life for the first time... but soon that feeling was gone again as the narrative went elsewhere.On the other hand, though the story was anything but predictable or straightforward, the various seemingly unconnected threads of the narrative did weave themselves together neatly (but not too neatly) at the end. There were a couple of characters (specifically Cal-raven and the ale boy) that I did want to know more about, and find what would happen to them. There were some moments of breathtaking beauty, and a longing for goodness (true, potent goodness, not some saccharine substitute) that reminded me of the writings of George MacDonald. And I am curious to know how the next two "strands" of the trilogy will tie the whole narrative together. So I am not sure that if I come across Cyndere's Midnight, I won't pick it up after all, and give Jeffrey Overstreet a second chance to fully win me over. Especially as it promises to be a bit of a "Beauty and the Beast" tale, and I'm a big sucker for those...Oh, and one last thing in the books' favor: the covers are utterly gorgeous. And they're trade paperbacks, so not that expensive if you feel like giving them a try.
lost_in_pages More than 1 year ago
Poetic World In spite of not really liking the book all that much, I have to admit that the world is poetically interesting. The characters and story are unusual. I liked the foundation of the story and world, but I couldn't engage with the magical realism. For example, I read it several years ago, but it still bothers me that Auralia's leaf shoes were green, or that she used flower petals for clothes. As a kid who played with making things out of whatever weeds grew in the lot next door, I know how fast leaves turn brown. I simply couldn't participate in the poetry of the fantasy. At the same, I think it says something that I still think about the novel years later. If you read a sample and it doesn't draw you in, then you might have some of the same problems I had with the story. I felt that the lyrical quality of the prose was consistent from beginning to end. It feels seeped with meaning, somewhat like The Scarlet Letter. Auralia is not a character that you get close to. It's not really her story. It's more the story of those affected by her.
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I can't stop thinking about this series ever since my friend loaned me the first one. Now she has passed it on to another friend and I am reading the 3rd book in the series. I look back and I am beginning to see that the Keeper is God and truth and Auralia is maybe an angel or Jesus to show us Gods true colors. It is very poetic and yet the people live so simply.
PLTK More than 1 year ago
Beautiful book--creative and lyrical.
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Raindream More than 1 year ago
Many will remember that the Bible states “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil,” but the sacred text goes further than that. “Some by longing for [money] have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10). Change that warning to the love of colorful things, and you have a fair summary of Jeffrey Overstreet’s debut fantasy, Auralia’s Colors. The people of Abascar live in browns and grays. Many years ago they gave up every bit of color they had to please the Queen, whose idea was to collect and mature the beauty of the kingdom before returning it to the people, royally blessed by her. In this way, the whole kingdom would be glorified over the other kingdoms of the Expanse. But the Queen never returned the promised honor to her people, so anyone making or finding something beautiful is required to give it to the king for storing in the vast royal vault. Enter an orphan with enchanting spirit and eyes for nature’s color. She sees what no one cares to see or is afraid to see due to the proclamation of colors. She weaves illegal clothing for the Gatherers who live outside the walls working off criminal sentences. If there were faeries in this world, Auralia would resemble one. She was discovered by the river in a gigantic footprint. She can infuse new color into things she holds. She rides a wildcat and observes beastmen from yards away. All she cares to do is paint her world with new life, and that could make her a criminal. Some modern fantasies echo Tolkien’s work with names, places, or characters that feel lifted directly from The Lord of the Rings. Auralia’s Colors echoes Tolkien in only one significant way, in the use of magic. This world is infused with natural magic. Royal soldiers ride two-legged lizards called vawns instead of horses. Black birds rise from the forest like a sheet every evening to pull up the night. Auralia can draw color out of anything she finds, making paint or dye or thread with it for her artwork. She does this by instinct and experimentation, not knowing how the colors multiply when she weaves them together. In a sense, she is innocent of the nature and power colors have in her world. Similarly, she is innocent of how the adults around her think. Her perspective clashes with the king’s once they finally meet each other. She is a servant of nature; he is servant to none. She would rejoice in the wonders of creation; he would control and store them. While inside a castle room, she says, “Such a small space makes people seem enormous. In the woods, everybody’s properly small.” That humility may be the essence of this recommended novel.
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