Shower of Stones by Zachary Jernigan ... a few early thoughts

I tend to review almost all of the novels or stories that I read. I keep those reviews either here on my blog, or on my Goodreads page. The works I purchase are reviewed as I get to them, and I tend to read books the same way others watch movies or television. Some nights I'm in the mood for epic fantasy. On others, I enjoy a good drama. I don't read in a linear fashion, but I never have any trouble remembering where I left off in a story.

Books which are given to me for review get bumped to the head of the line. Right now I have two such books. Shower of Stones got to the head of the line, not because the author asked me to read it--for in the interest of full disclosure, Zachary and I know one another from our online interactions--but because I requested this particular novel.

I've read Zachary's short stories and essays and found him to be an astute and extremely versatile author. When he offered Shower of Stones in exchange for honest reviews, I snapped at the chance to read one of his novels. 

This is a novel of Jeroun and is the sequel to No Return; although I use the word sequel in the loosest possible sense. I have not read No Return and can safely assert that Shower of Stones stands alone with ease. Do you need to read No Return in order to enjoy Shower of Stones? No. However, having read Shower of Stones, I'll go back and read No Return.

I'm halfway through Shower of Stones now. I rarely speak about a novel before I finish reading it, but I'm making an exception in this case for reasons all my own. Last night, after another round of utter nonsense over the Hugo awards, I quit Twitter in disgust and went upstairs to read more of this excellent novel. I'd merely gone a few pages before I happened upon this paragraph:

He knew, now, how a god looked at humankind. The disdain, he had expected. Even the humblest merchant, risen to enough influence, soon became a master of contempt. Power begat this perspective, Vedas knew, and men could not entirely resist thinking of their neighbors as less than human: at various points in the history of the world, peoples had been enslaved and even made extinct. The cousin of such violence existed in every man. He could know that hate more intimately if he allowed himself to blame others for his ills.

It was appallingly easy to create divisions, to build walls instead of bridges. [Emphasis mine]

This is why I love Zachary's works. His characters are all complex, nuanced people, and Zachary delivers passages like these with a deft and graceful hand. The reader is zooming along just after a well-written fight scene to come across this nugget of prose, which in many ways articulated my disgust with the entire Hugo debacle.

Rather than discuss awards, we're going to be discussing books here. Especially those of authors who aren't getting enough attention.

So a full review will be happening in the coming weeks. I also promised to help Zachary pass the novel along by offering a giveaway on my blog. When I post the final review, I will give readers a chance to win the signed copy currently in my possession. Stay tuned for the giveaway ... it will be coming soon.