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asa kraiya by Karen Wehrstein

What would you do . . . to live? 

asa kraiya is the sequel “that never should have happened” to my two traditionally-published fantasy novels, Lion’s Heart and Lion’s Soul (Baen Books, 1991). Greatest of warriors and greatest of leaders, Fourth Chevenga Shae-Arano-e lives “the life of other men’s dreams”—except that he faces certain death by the age of thirty.

When a healer with the gift of seeing the human aura offers Chevenga the chance of long life if he undergoes the necessary changes—including going asa kraiya (in his language, “beyond the sword”), that is, giving up warriorhood—he goes for it.

His ensuing journey forces an exploration not only for Chevenga, but for his whole culture, into the meanings of power and war, love and family, sanity and insanity, pain and pleasure, spirituality, human nature and more, ultimately posing the biggest question—what in life is truly important, anyway?

Emotionally intense and yet shot through with humour, the story is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which the different cultures, their values, customs, languages and so on are portrayed in great detail, so as to give the reader a feel of being there. Almost 3,000 years after a human-made cataclysm reduced both human population and technology back to primitive levels, civilization is slowly rising again. Here and there, tiny relics and pockets of the old knowledge are left, some useful, some merely intriguing, which people deal with in different ways, sometimes guard secret, sometimes use and sometimes spread, so that there are all kinds of possibilities.

Note: asa kraiya contains some graphic sexual content, graphic violence, and harsh language.

A complete novel

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Listed: Mar 23, 2009

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If you like character-driven/personal development stories, this is for you!

By capriox, member

Dec 10, 2009: This story is the sequel to the Philosopher in Arms (also listed on WFG). asa kraiya can be read as a standalone, but both stories are equally great reads, so it’s worth it to go read PiA first.

I love this story. Karen has LOTS AND LOTS of writing experience, fiction and nonfiction, and it shows in the polished quality of her writing. It makes it easy to devour each post and then at the end, still be wanting more.

This story is about the personal transformation of Chevenga, the hero from PiA. For those of you who haven’t read PiA, it’s a far-future tale, but post-apocalypse technology loss means it has a "swords and horses" setting. Chevenga is the semanakraseye, the leader of the extremely democratic people of Yeola-e (motto: always, you choose). Although the position is generally inherited, he is NOT a king, despite what his foriegn peers may think. In fact, the Yeolis have a saying that the semanakraseye is the only slave in their nation, because he or she dedicates their whole life and being to serving the will of the people.

Unfortunately for Chevenga, being raised to fulfill that position, combined with the loss of his father at age seven, a vision of personal doom that he keeps secret, and all the other things that happen to him in PiA (short non-spoiler version: LOTS OF TRAUMA, physical and mental, along the way of doing huge amounts of great things for his people and the world) have left him a bit scarred in body and mind.

In asa kraiya, it’s time for Chevenga to heal.

Although there is humor, romance, sex, occasional sword-fighting, high-powered politics and a few side plots to mix things up, this is primarily a very personal story about Chevenga and his internal sea-change. If you don’t enjoy stories unless something is blowing up or there’s a big fight scene every third chapter, you might not like this. For everyone else, I can’t recommend asa kraiya (along with PiA) enough.

ETA: grammatical errors 12/12

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