When most people think about the word “warrior” they imagine somebody who’s strong, well suited for battle, and loves the thrill off a fight, even if it costs them their life. And occasionally, they may not always be the brightest of the bunch, sometimes lacking knowledge and wisdom.
Rayden isn’t your average warrior.
With her journey for discovery taking her across numerous lands, seeing a wide array of faces and people, Rayden Valkyrie’s latest tale has her traveling to the lands of the Far East: Yamatainu. Having befriended Timiko, the brave leader of a band of pirates, they set out together to help bring prosperity and hope to nearby villages currently suffering from the cruel grip of war. Accompanied by Mari-chan, a quick-witted ally, Rayden’s time in Yamatainu quickly becomes not only a chance to help those in need, but a learning experience for herself.
Creative, descriptive, and with action that gets right to the point, The Sun’s Caress is a standalone fantasy adventure novella in the Rayden Valkyrie series written by Stephen Zimmer. Following the journey of Rayden Valkyrie and her time in Yamatainu, as mentioned before, it is a standalone in an already growing series of books, but having no prior knowledge of Rayden’s time as a warrior doesn’t have a negative impact on the plot. If anything, having read this made me want to read the rest of the series in order to know how Rayden got to where she was.
Right from the first page Zimmer’s quick use of description helped set up the environment and imagery for every scene, helping the reader get into where the story takes place. The same can be said for whenever a new character is introduced, especially for those who are essential to the plot. The way Zimmer painted a picture of Rayden’s personality—her fighting style and stance, appearance, and even a brief background of her adventures—created a clear image of what kind of character, and how much of an influence, Rayden was to those around her. On the surface, Rayden is a headstrong warrior who loves the heat and thrill of a good match, displaying this early on when she enters a sparring match with Timiko. And even in that scene, Zimmer manages to give the right amount of descriptive action to create a great first fight scene—not too much information where we may miss something, but just enough to visualize it as if it were happening in real time.
Both combatants moving with speed and balance, the air filled with the sharp clacks and thuds of wood upon wood. Slashes and thrusts, shifts of stance, blocks and counters, a martial dance unfolded that many of the other pirates watched from nearby in a spirit of wonderment and deep respect.
As the story continues, we soon learn about the wisdom and insight Rayden has gained throughout her journey, giving words of encouragement and giving her opinions on certain topics and events. With a mix of brains and brawn, Rayden knows how to perform her best, during the heat of battle and when the crew throws festivities afterwards.
After having a couple of encounters with Timiko’s enemies, Rayden takes up another task that could possibly change the tide of war, and even shape the rest of humanity. That being said, it became clear that there were two main plot points that the story wanted to focus on, but one ultimately had to take the lead. At some points during the story, I started to wonder when something else was going to happen relating to this task Rayden had taken up; although she wasn’t the main one who was assigned the task, she had made it her duty to make sure that task was completed. There were times when the two plots came together and helped bring the story together, but when it does happen, it feels a bit too late in the story. However, it doesn’t break down the action and enjoyment from reading it—I still wanted to know what happened next. And with the way the story ends, it keeps me hopeful to see just how everything comes together in later books.
Even though the overall story is short, we were given various settings and various events, all of which connecting and building upon the last to give a cohesive and enjoyable reading experience. From the scorched grounds of a burning village, to a shrine on a hill overlooking a battle below, and an eerie glow coming from the sea at night, The Sun’s Caress is a nice read for something in-between books, an introduction into a new series, or if you don’t like the usual 300-page novel.
The Sun’s Caress is currently available on Amazon. To check out more from Stephen Zimmer, check out his Amazon Author Page and follow his Twitter: @SGZimmer to stay up-to-date with the latest news about his upcoming books and works.