Throw your history book out the window, because Joseph Robert Lewis has rewritten it with fantastical magic and superb prose!
Asha, the kick ass heroine!
In this book we meet the most awesome character, Asha, sort of like Cain from the TV show Kung Fu but only if he were tougher, still in the Orient and a chick! We meet Asha as she wanders through the land, helping those she can, but seemingly directionless in her wanderings. She comes upon a sort of Buddhist nun, asleep in and literally enmeshed with the secluded forest around her. When she frees the nun, Asha gains a traveling companion and an interesting counter point to her dark and brooding nature.
As we learn more about Asha and her past, we realize she's traveling with a purpose, to avenge herself on the evil man who calls himself a healer but is little more than a mad scientist spreading destruction and death in his wake.
The World As We Know It
I adored the world building in this book! Starting off with the premise of Earth and then taking a sort of alternate reality view of it, Joseph Robert Lewis crafts a world unlike one I've ever read. Part mythology, part fantasy, with even a hint of Steampunk, the Other Earth saga is set in a richly conceived and lushly described landscape. I loved the allusions, in both name and story, that Lewis weaves into Asha's story and those of the people she meets. With hints of Homer's Odyssey and the Bhagavad Gita juxtaposed against early technology and elements of fantasy, Lewis makes this unusual mix work. It's ornate and absolutely fascinating.
First Things Last
My only complaint is that I picked this series up near the end. While this book does stand on it's own, I'm the sort of reader who enjoys knowing all the back history and to do that, I really would have needed to the previous six books. It's a great introduction to the world, but for those, like me, who enjoy following the linear arc of a storyline, you may prefer to do yourself the favor of starting with The Burning Sky, Book One of the Halcyon Series, the first of three series in the Other Earth saga.
Amazing fantasy and historical fiction rolled up into one, The Dragon and the Lotus is a treat not to be missed!