S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.
So when The Waters of Nyra: Volume I flew onto the scene, I made sure I gave it as thorough a review as my inexperienced brain could. I’m a little delayed in giving its sequel, The Waters of Nyra: Volume II, the same treatment. But, as I’m sure other self-published authors are aware, a review is better late than never! While Nyra’s story as a whole is a continuation between two volumes (this is its completion, for the record), this is still Kelly’s second venture into self-publishing itself.
Allow me to take a moment to address a grievance I’ve seen people take with Volume I, as well as other stories written in this method: not everything will be answered to your liking. Volume I very clearly ends in a critical moment, a held breath, a cliffhanger. I was surprised to learn that some people reading it were expressing frustration with not knowing what was going on, with not knowing answers to questions laced throughout Volume I’s telling. It… it’s a two-part story, an adventure that, I might add, is clearly not done. That people expect total fulfillment in such a situation is startling, but I can only assume it has something to do with some sort of sense of entitlement to all knowledge involved. They must prefer episodic content as opposed to long-term plots, I think. It leaves me with a curious sensation. But, as always, to each their own!
For those who stick around to find out, Volume II kicks off right where Volume I ends. And I daresay it was worth the minor wait. Nyra is still imprisoned by her herd’s hopeful-saviors, the Zealers. She shares this prison with Olieve, a blind Zealer with a rather curious, difficult personality that I think holds supremely well throughout this story. Through her, we are educated about the Zealers’ own troublesome situation. Theirs is a divided herd suffering from a feud spawned by Nyra’s own herd of Agrings; split into the Sorjas and Raklisalls.
Immediately as the tale begins anew, Kelly builds on the history of Nyra’s world, all the while building the personality of this new character. The characters she creates are not images of perfection, physically or mentally. They have faults, they slip up, make mistakes, suffer from inflated egos–and some of them manage to stumble their way into a more rounded, learned and experienced existence. Considering that younger people can easily read this tale, the characterization is a wonderful gem, allowing them to enjoy a good story and learn subtle lessons about how to carry oneself through strife, how to negotiate and socialize in less than ideal situations, and so much more. It sort of feels like we’re losing touch with that aspect of ourselves, and I’m glad Kelly has a touch for writing it.
Nyra is forced to accept that the previous book’s hard journey is nowhere near the end of her task. For now, it is not about the physical journey, but the psychological. During her stay in the Zealers’ territory, there is much nervous action and still more characters with curious personalities. Then it’s the return journey, fraught with just as much peril as before, to face down the Sperks and free Nyra’s herd. Unexpectedly, we find that many, many more dragons that we expect benefit from Nyra’s struggles.
While I do start these entries with a spoiler-tag, I do not set out to openly spoil major plot points. As such, since the points I’d absolutely love to discuss are integral to the overreaching plot of this tale, I’m going to refrain from speaking on them. But Oharassie makes his return, and that’s absolutely smashing. He remains my favorite character, not for a fault amongst the rest, but for his peculiar brand of assistance. Plus, I can’t help but love aquatic dragons!
The most pivotal, important choice in the writing of this story to me is that Nyra’s original problem, the captivity of her herd, isn’t solved by the Zealers of legend, but rather, by the fruits of her journey. There is something particularly admirable in this, and, quite frankly, it is my favorite aspect of both volumes. Her journey is made more meaningful; without the strife, the connections, and her growth, the Agrings may have never known freedom. There is happiness, there are grey characters (“purple dragons”) who do not fit in with their own kind, and–important to myself, personally–there is no character killed off solely for the sake of dramatic tension. The characters are used to their fullest potential, meeting their fates and overcoming adversities. The ending events are ultimately satisfying, safe for younger readers while at the same time proving realistic for more mature minds. A delicate line to dance that I think Kelly is quite excelled at.
There is also a matter of messages or potential discussion points. There are plenty. The most important of all is the ability to rely on oneself, but not to forget the kindness of others. So much of Nyra’s journey was rooted in a twisted truth, but the only way to move on and resolve her problems was to make a new truth. If only more of us were so willing to learn and adapt, like dearest Nyra. I absolutely recommend this reading for younger kids; if you don’t think them old enough to understand, read with them! Take the time to teach them words, explain situations to them. This story is ripe for enjoyment for both parent and child, or sitter and child, or friend to friend, or child to adult! Seriously. Reading is an absolutely beautiful thing, encouraging the imagination, growth, and complex thought, and Kelly’s writing certainly supports all this and more. I’ve seen whispers of her writing future fantasy and sci-fi stories, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. For little Nyra, however, there is the promise of peace, with a world of potential.
Interested in The Waters of Nyra? It can be purchased here.
Feel free to visit Kelly at her own site, while you’re at it!