The Commander And The Den Asaan Rautu - Michelle Franklin
A man has only one escape from his old self: to see a different self--in the mirror of some woman's eyes. - Clare Boothe Luce

Frewyn and Gallei are at war and the former is losing the battle. First Captain Boudicca MacDaede enlists the aid of an imprisoned Haanta. in exchange for his freedom, Rautu accepts. together, he and Boudicca defeat the Galleisian invaders and an accord between Gallei and the Kingdom of Frewyn is reached. the good King Alisdair Brennin acends the Frewyn throne and Boudicca's rank is elevated to Commander. Rautu returns to his southern homeland and brings Boudicca with him. his joy after his exile is dampened by the disappearance of his brothers. moreover, his Commander's foreign ways force them to return to Frewyn with a powerful Haanta mage in tow.
Michelle Franklin's first book in the Haanta Series transports the reader to a world of magic, intrigue, adventure, danger and romance. the author's grasp of English and her skill in developing a language for Rautu and his people remind me of the philologist and author J.R.R. Tolkien. though there is nothing Tolkienesque about this book, it comes close for its ambitious scope, memorable characters and incredible worldbuilding.
the two main protagonists are well-developed and i have never encountered a pair like them before. Rautu's physical appearance intimidates and frightens those he meets. his actions, speech and demeanor are all shaped by his culture. anything and everything that does not conform to his way of thinking is an abomination and a threat to him and his fellow Haantas. Boudicca may not be as attractive and comely to some, but she is all woman. her military office and combat skills earn her the respect of her peers and Rautu's admiration. Boudicca and Rautu also share a bond despite their differences. her constant ribbing is met with his usual smug replies and their banter throughout the book is such a delight to read.
there are a few things i found interesting as well - the social commentaries on religion, governance, ideology and philosophy and how these elements influence the characters.
the tale of The Commander And The Den Asaan Rautu is an epic in itself and thanks to the author's prolific writing, there is more to follow and look forward to.

Disclosure of Material Connection: i purchased a copy of The Commander And The Den Asaan Rautu Vol 1 (Haanta Series, #1) from a coupon provided by the author. i did not receive any payment in exchange for this review nor was i obligated to write a positive one. all opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. this disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.