Thursday, August 05, 2010

SF/F: Secrets of the Sands by Leona Wisoker

Ten years ago Leona Wisoker’s debut novel -- the first book in a series -- would have been published to much fanfare by a large house. Secrets of the Sands (Mercury Retrograde Press) has the kind of clarity of voice and vision and extreme depth of scope that one associates with large publishing companies and media fanfare. It’s a very, very good first book. But this is the new millennium and -- in the publishing industry -- times are shaky. While it saddens me that a work of this calibre is unlikely to get the attention it deserves, I’m heartened to see small presses picking up some of the slack from their less confident big brothers. Their loss, as one might say. And cream tends to rise. And then you read Secrets of the Sands. And here we are.

I know almost nothing about Virginia-based writer Wisoker other than the fact that she has an “extraordinarily patient husband,” two large dogs and that she seldom vacuums. It’s not enough information, but after reading her debut work, it’s not difficult to imagine her deeply lost in the collection of details and the complete immersion in a world of her own creation.

Like all very good works of fantasy, Secrets of the Sands is a complete re-imagining of the world and society. Unlike science fiction, that can offer distinction with a slight shift of the light, fantasy -- properly put down -- carries us away completely. It’s what enchants us so about The Hobbit an what continues to rivet us about the work of George R.R. Martin and Robin Hobb. They tell stories, sure: but also they recreate every aspect of what we hold dear and familiar and it is with these incredible sleights of hand that we come to see ourselves better and more clearly.

Desert Lord Cafad Scratha is dedicated to catching the people who murdered his family when he was but a child. But the king has other ideas and he tries to tame the southern lord. As a result, Scratha goes underground under a false identity. This throws the southern lands into chaos and turns the lives of Scratha and the tightest portion of his cadre into confusion. And it’s an opening move. Secrets of the Sands is but Book One of Wisoker’s “Children of the Desert” series. I’m not sure where this series will take us, but I know it’s a bus I’ll be on.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have also compared this book to Tolkien's work for its depth and rich background. I am anxiously awaiting the next book and have heard the "teaser" first chapter will be out soon on the web site. This is an excellent first novel and I expect the series will only get richer and deeper as it goes on.

Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 1:09:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Lisa Sherman said...

Loved this book! Thanks for the great tip

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 12:39:00 AM PST  

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