Sunday 16 October 2011

Review: The Commander and the Den Asaan Rautu - Michelle Franklin

Series: Haanta #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185, ebook
Published: June 2011
Review by Lis

The Kingdom of Frewyn is being invaded  and at the forefront of the battle is Boudicca MacDaede, a First Captain in the Frewyn armed forces. Her regiment is charged with defending the borders between the two nations, but when Frewyn’s last line of defense falls, Captain MacDaede enlists the assistance of a Haanta, one of giants from the islands to the far north. Promising to free him from his imprisonment in exchange for his help, she gains his trust long enough for them to win the battle and save the Frewyn border from being breached. The giant’s freedom is granted, but Rautu cannot return home unless he redeems himself in the eyes of his people for his past transgressions. He is offered a place by the captain’s side, and together, they defeat the Galleisian forces and become the saviors of Frewyn.

One year later, King Alasdair Brennin takes the Frewyn throne, Boudicca is made commander, and Rautu is granted an invitation home. He is eager to return and see his brothers but finds it difficult to leave Frewyn without Boudicca at his side. Rautu invites the commander to the islands in hopes of finding a way for them to remain together, but when they arrive at the white shores of Sanhedhran, not everything goes as planned: one of the dangerous Haanta magi is freed, Rautu’s three brothers are strangely missing, and the neighboring nation of Thellis leads an attack on the islands.

Alrighty, remember my very first review here? Cattitude by Edie Ramer? Remember how I wrote that I would never have read this book if B. hadn’t ‘forced’ it on me? I just love to be proven wrong when it comes to books, covers and blurbs. It was vaguely similar with Michelle Franklin’s book Den Asaan. When I first read the title, I was: Oh hell! Now way no how! But I made myself read the blurb and I was strangely intrigued. So I said yes. And you guessed it, I was proved wrong. 

Despite the weird title, this is an exciting, intriguing romance story that starts when the borders of the Kingdom of Frewyn are attacked by the Galleisian army. Things don’t look good and First Captain Boudicca MacDaede knows she has to do something, so she enlists the help of captured giant – a Haanta – called Rautu, in exchange for his freedom. Things work out and invasion is averted. 

This is actually where the real story starts. Rautu doesn’t leave right away – as he needs to redeem himself first – and he sticks close to Boudicca, who is later promoted to commander. Rautu finds himself attracted to her and when he’s invited home, he finds he doesn’t want to leave her. So he invites her home with him. And that folks is where the story really starts, because all is not well at home and they find themselves in the midst of magic, adventure and mystery. 

There is quite some world building in this book. Combined with the author’s skill with words and language, make that she can pull this very ambitious story off. Not once does it fall short. I was very impressed with how this author wrote the world surrounding Rautu and Boudicca. There’s vivid imagery and at times I almost found myself walking beside them.  Quite a bit of thought went into this world, the people in it, culture, social behavior and the religion’s governing this world. 

The characters are awesome. Well worked out and strong, they have their own unique voice and quirks in this story. While a romance, they are their own persons. Lucky for me they didn’t fall of the typical cliché’s in romance either. 

I loved Rautu. He’s a giant, fierce and scares those he first meets. He very strongly believes in his own culture and that shows in his behavior to those he meets. In a way he reminded me of Conan the Barbarian a bit. Only more cultured! I loved his replies to Boudicca’s teasing! 

But I especially loved Boudicca. She is so not your typical lovely, well-shaped – with curves in all the right places – romance woman.  But she is a warrior and that earns her the respect of not only Rautu but also her peers. 

As you may have guessed, I liked reading Den Asaan. While I most likely never would have picked this book up for myself, I’m very glad I got to review it. It’s a book I can very much recommend to you! 


  1. I gasped seeing your review of that particular book! I clearly remember writing one of my first reviews for Melissa and quacking in my boots because I wasn't sure how it would be received. Melissa "decreed" that it is a book for me to review and I admit it wasn't bad! Great job, Lis! I think you liked it even better than me!

  2. Thanks Lis :D

    Lol, I can see you quacking Ana ;)

  3. I'm glad that someone reviewed this one because that cover is horrible and would be one that I would totally pass up!

  4. Thank you for the lovely review! I hope you enjoy the other books in the series :D

    @Ana quacking or quaking? I prefer quacking myself :D

  5. @ Michelle - quacking. I never quake but when I don't know what to do I tend to quack. ;) My dog has taught me how!

  6. Though this isn't a genre I tend to read, this one does sound really good.
    I'm not a fan of that cover though.

  7. Great review Lis! You really intrigue me with it.

  8. I'm sorry, I know I'm horrible, but I just can't get beyond the cover.

  9. Staci
    The cover did made me lol ;) They were sure up to something

    I kind of like the style..the style only

    LOL! You are not alone

    Aurian :)

  10. Glad you liked it. I have to agree with Staci on that cover. It threw me off at first.

  11. @blodeuedd

    The art-nouveaux-esque style fits with the story. The original line-art is stunning and beautifully detailed, as you can see here:

    Unfortunately, the way the cover was coloured did not translate well in a digital medium. It was painted by a well-known watercolourist, and while the rendering is really lovely on a large paper print, it is not so lovely in such a small format. However, the cover is currently being re-coloured by a digital artist and will be ready for the second edition of the book :D

    My favourite piece for the book is the title page art, seen here:



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