“THE HIDDEN SUN is deceptive both in terms of its cover and its content. The cover is pretty typical fare for a fantasy novel involving knights and kingdoms. The book’s synopsis, on the other hand, outlines a story that seems much simpler than it actually is. I was expecting a fantasy novel full of heroes and royalty, a sweeping epic romance set among the background of political intrigue. THE HIDDEN SUN had all that…but it was also so much more. [Authors note: this was intentional. I feel that too often the cover and synopsis give too much of the story away] Author J. Lloyd Morgan twists and turns the plot in so many directions that nothing is ever expected as he takes us on an adventure that reminds me of all the reasons I love this genre best.
THE HIDDEN SUN takes place over a longer period of time than I originally anticipated it would and only the first third of the book goes the way I think it will. Morgan’s characters are endearing from the start. I loved seeing Princess Eliana as a girl with her own phrases and habit of doodling in her books. The opening scene really humanized her and I immediately began to care, even more so as she develops feelings for Rinan, her personal royal guardian. Following the fashion of all forbidden romances, there’s seemingly no way for the two to be together. Eliana will soon be queen of Bariwon and must marry whoever wins the Shoginoc. On top of that, royal guardians aren’t allowed to marry until after they’ve retired. The two hatch a dangerous plan in order to be together, one that will wreak havoc not only in their own lives, but throw the kingdom they’ve sworn to protect in mortal peril.
Morgan has created yet another novel that’s hard for me to talk about without giving away major plot points and spoilers. Bariwon is a kingdom that reminds me of other beloved fantasy realms such as Tamora Pierce’s world of Tortall. I love books and movies featuring knights and kingdoms and competitions of skill. To have all of those things bound up in one novel was a pleasure and I blew right through this novel, never wanting to put it down. There’s so much meaning behind the title alone, more than I initially thought after reading the first couple of chapters. By the novel’s end, I understood it on a deeper level and appreciated it all the more. With the exception of guessing two character-related events, THE HIDDEN SUN kept me guessing, never sure quite what to expect next. I can’t wait to journey back to Bariwon in the future.
A SNEAK PEEK AT WHAT’S TO COME:
As a blog tour participant for THE HIDDEN SUN, Morgan has shared some secrets about what’s ahead regarding Bariwon’s future.
He states that while THE HIDDEN SUN was created as a stand-alone, he got an idea that brought him back to Bariwon. He’ll be releasing a companion novel entitled THE WAXING MOON in 2012. The summary is up on Goodreads now. He’s working on the third companion novel, THE ZEALOUS STAR, now. While each book can be read on its own, THE WAXING MOON takes place four years after THE HIDDEN SUN and revolves around a minor character from that title. The second novel will also set up the events that will occur during THE ZEALOUS STAR. This is similar to the way Shannon Hale’s Bayern novels or Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series are stand-alones focusing on fellow family members or descendants from previous books. THE WAXING MOON will reveal things like why things happened at the end of THE HIDDEN SUN in quite the way they did and continue on into Bariwon’s future.
Morgan will also be releasing a stand-alone novel entitled THE MIRROR OF THE SOUL sometime in 2012.
Finally, once you’ve finished reading THE HIDDEN SUN, Morgan has set up a page on his web site where he reveals writing secrets. How did he come up with names and certain plot points? The page is spoilery, so it’s not recommended for reading before finishing the novel.”