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    Altaica by Tracy M. Joyce

    This was an epic adventure to follow and I had a fantastic time being a passenger along for the ride. Although, I did feel that the beginning of the story went a little too slow for my taste but I felt that this was the type of book that you really needed a good foundation. It’s been a really long time since I’ve ready such a good fantasy novel. I loved the detail of the trip to Altaica. I sometimes felt that I was with Isaura. I loved her as a character and felt frustrated at some of the ways that she was treated and felt so much better for her once she arrived at Altaica. I was really interested in the parts when we got to have a peek at Altacia. I loved the culture, the people, their traditions as well as their political structure. I think that I would have really enjoyed knowing more about Altacia. Which, I know would come in the next book. Another thing that I loved about this book as the strong female character, Isaura. There just isn’t that many out there and I get pretty excited to see one and even more when they are part of a great series. I loved her attitude and would be interested in following her story in the next coming books. Another thing that I loved was the way that this story was told. Tracey was phenomenal in telling the story and it just grabs you and doesn’t let go until you’ve finished. Even then I leaves you craving for more. I loved the way that book ended. It wasn’t a completely a cliffhanger but it definitely left you wanting more. For those of you who enjoy a good fantasy then this isn’t a book that you should pass up!
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    An exciting, immersive epic fantasy debut

    This is the first part in an epic Fantasy series set in the land of Altaica. The book drops you into an immediately tense situation as the main character, Isaura, watches an immense foreign army about to march through her home town, and she is faced with difficult decisions early on. Isaura herself is a strong lead character, skilled at archery and healing, but never fully accepted or trusted by the village because of the colour of her skin and her 'Hill Clan' ancestry. Despite this, Isaura does everything in her power to help them in the face of this threat. The story follows a number of viewpoint characters as they struggle to survive, and their paths diverge and interconnect as the story unfolds. At first I had some difficulty accepting so many POV characters, but each of them quickly develops their own voice, and brings a unique and interesting perspective to the story. One of Joyce's greatest strengths is her ability to write complex, realistic characters, then throw them headlong into horrible, desperate situations. It makes for great reading! The world of Altaica is alive with detail and rich history, but it never feels like it's getting in the way of the story. In fact, it only enhances it. Generations-old conflicts and grudges are brought back into play, and affect how many of the characters act and perceive each other in the story. The magic system, too, is fascinating and well thought out, focusing on the bonds between the human and animal worlds, and although it only really comes to the forefront towards the end of the book, it's present throughout and underpins and directs so much about the course of the story. I suspect, however, that we've only just begun to glimpse its depth. I'm trying to keep this review spoiler-free, so I can't go into the details of my favourite moments, but there were many that stuck with me. I'll just say that the idea of the Kenati is one of the coolest I've seen in a Fantasy series, and I can't wait to see more of them in the next book. Joyce is one of the few Fantasy authors that pays as much attention to building her characters as she does building her world and plots, and it makes Altaica one of the most satisfying Fantasy books I've read in a long time. If you're looking for a new Fantasy series with strong female leads and an author that brings a fresh take to the genre, I highly recommend Altaica.
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    A terrific adventure!

    Altaica by new Australian author Tracy M. Joyce was an unexpected pleasure for me. It has been a long time since I have read an epic fantasy novel though I loved this genre during my high school days. I am so glad I picked this one up. Altaica is an epic journey which draws the reader into a strange new world where danger and mistrust run rampant. Vivid descriptions of the people, their lands and the battles for survival which unfold drag you into the heart of an enthralling story. What I like about the style of Tracy M. Joyce is her carefully crafted words and attention to detail. There are many characters to try to get your head around yet ultimately they all play an important part in the telling of this adventure. The author is not afraid to take a courageous decision with the structure of her novel. She introduces the audience to the main character, a strong woman named Isaura, and follows her perspective for a while only to change the tone of the story by following the perspectives of those around her instead. This breaks the formula of fantasy novels and works brilliantly to add more depth to the characters lurking in the wings. Guardian spirits, mystical and magical properties abound with plenty of action to hold the attention of a young adult audience. The author’s insights into the plight of displaced people, xenophobia, racism, the humanity and inhumanity of man adds something more meaty for an older audience. All in all, Altaica is a pleasurable, satisfying journey which leaves the reader seeking more. I would highly recommend this novel to both adult and young adult audiences.
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    Brilliantly written, fast action fantasy

    Altaica Book 1 is a fast-moving, constant action fantasy. The heroine is a young girl who finds herself in an impossible situation. Although she is resolute in her dealing with this situation she is by no means sure of herself. She is surrounded by characters who love her initially, but as the story evolves her circle of companions enlarges and not all are what they seem. The newcomers in her life have their own political, social and emotional agendas and Isaura's plight and her future become entangled with these agendas. Very carefully crafted and full of authentic details, such as the descriptions of accoutrements and armoury, of scenery and relationships, and of the structures of the castles and cities, this tale keeps one wanting to read further to find out what happens next. It is not a story for the faint-hearted as the author does not shun the descriptions of the less savoury events. Her poignant and heart-warming treatment of the horses in one section gives relief to some of the more distressing narrative which comes earlier. However, always her descriptions and narrative are well thought out and full of colourful expression that displays an excellent command of the English language. In short, this is a story about life and apart from the more magical and mystical aspects of it the story could relate to our own life experiences, especially those who find themselves caught up in a war not of their own making. This is not to say that the magical happenings are incidental either. They serve to entwine the narrative in a shroud of virtuality which heightens the reader's concern for Isaura's welfare. Probably the most important thing that I can say about this story is that when I reached the end I had developed a thirst for the Book 2 which is to come. I look forward to its publication.
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    A brilliant and adventurous fantasy!

    "Review published in the October 7th 2014 edition of the Gold Coast Bulletin" There is only one work to describe Tracy M. Joyce’s debut novel – refreshing. This first instalment of the Chronicles of Altaica follows the adventures of Isaura and her interesting group of friends. After enduring years of racism, she flees her community with her group and together, they make the most difficult decisions of their lives in order to survive. At first, I was a little hesitant about Altaica, not being a fan of fantasy and mythical creatures, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Joyce has made the interesting choice of focusing on a number of voices instead of just the main characters. In a book more suited to teens than younger readers, Joyce explores the issue of racism and writes in a way that teaches a lesson.
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