Allison's Book Bag

Sela by Jackie Gamber

Posted on: December 4, 2013

Imagine being born to dragons, but not being able to breathe fire or to fly the skies because you were born a human. Such is the setup to Sela, book two of The Leland Dragon trilogy by Jackie Gamber, which I enjoyed as much as the first book.

For those of you who have read Redheart, many of the main characters will be familiar to you. For example, Sela’s parents, both Kallon who reluctantly accepts his position as future leader of the Dragon Council and Riza who runs from her human lineage where she feels misplaced, figure in the plot. You see, Sela has grown into a young woman who is being sheltered among humans by a powerful wizard, but she would prefer to live with her parents in the mountains and often makes this known to them. When her human form makes this impossible, Sela comes to believe that she is a disappointment to her parents and runs away. A few of enemies of our beloved dragons are also back in book two such as Jastin turned against all dragons after losing Riza to them and Whiteheart who walks the fine line of acting as friend to both sides which perhaps makes him to be most feared. In an unexpected twist, one of these enemies will encounter The Gold, a supernatural dragon, and change his ways. If you are not familiar with the eclectic cast of characters in Redheart, many of which have returned in Sela, don’t let that stop you from reading Sela. It’s been over a year since I read book one, but Gambler effectively provided all the background information I needed to slip back into the Leland world.

When I reviewed Redheart, I praised Gambler for her misfit characters, the endearing relationships between them, and the light-hearted touch. While I could equally praise Sela for all these elements, what I wish to focus on this time is Gambler’s world-building skill, which left me in awe. The three main geographical settings featured are the town of Simson where Sela lives, the mountains and valleys where our beloved dragons reside, and Riddess Castle of Esra Province where Vorham rules. The castle becomes an important, because of Vorham’s plan to lay claim to the crystal ore hidden in the Leland mountains by marrying a maiden from the area–and naturally, our heroine is one of his top choices. Gambler not only paints a detailed texture of all three, but also conveys a different emotional atmosphere for each of them. As such, Simson comes across as a tired old town, the valleys as a hidden refuge, and the castle as an austere place of beauty.

  • In fact, the whole rumpled village of Simson seemed achingly tired. Stone huts squatted around the fountains, tipping haphazard straw roofs in some sort of obsolete greeting. Arbor oaks and sweeping willow trees drooped toward the sloppy roads. Even the flies were silent as they circled, too weary to bother buzzing.
  • The bothersome undergrowth turned soft like woven rugs beneath his tired feet. Craggy birch trunks gave way to wide-spiced with arching branches that fanned his warm face…. He stepped through the trees, toward the edge of the stream and gaze up the nearest mountainside being blissfully pummeled by cascading water.
  • Behind them, through the gate’s metalwork, Sela saw the sweeping courtyard, massive marble steps, and above that, sky-piercing spires cloaked with ivy.

Among the faults which I pointed out in Redheart, the only one which still exists to any extent in Sela is the use of multiple viewpoints and it barely bothered me. However, I could have done without all the scenes involving battles and magic. Granted, those are integral to the plot. However, I’m reminded of shows like X-Files, which often included references to government conspiracies. While I like the main characters and bizarre situations featured in X-Files, the latter does nothing to interest me. And the same holds true for Sela. However, this is a small flaw and is perhaps as forgettable as the conspiracy theories in X-Files.

As with its predecessor, Sela is about discovering one’s own identity. It’s also about the power of both friendship and love, which are key to our heroine being able to find a place both in the world of humans and in the world of dragons. As such, Sela contains powerful lessons, while also being an entertaining read.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?


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I am focusing this year on other commitments. Once a month, I’ll post reviews of Advanced Reader Copies. Titles will include: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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