Song of Turand: Opening Aria: Legends from Turand by Sandra Valencia tells the compelling story of a beautiful land that has been overcome by darkness and oppression; readers will undoubtedly find something to connect with in this harrowing narrative.
Song of Turand is, at once, a tale of romance, fantasy, and much more. Turand is a country that was once a pillar of beauty, excellence and spiritual prosperity. Years after the nation is occupied by the Sifiq Kingdom, its king, Gregor, has seemingly betrayed his people and all but leaves them to suffer and starve under the tyrannical rule of their oppressors, as he otherwise enjoys their mercy at the Turandan palace. Gregor’s loyalties and courage are tested, however, with the mysterious arrival of Alexa, a young priestess who shows up at the palace to request amnesty for her fiance, Lord Victor Garogan. As the book develops, we begin to learn the truth about Alexa and the extent of her mysterious heroism. What follows is a complex and profound story of forgiveness, unity, and what happens when people find the determination to stand up in the face of evil.

Song of Turand hits close to home, appealing to modern audiences with themes of oppression and liberation with poise and imagination. Valencia clearly draws striking parallels between her world and ours that beg readers to look both deep within themselves and thoughtfully at the world around them. Although she strongly emphasizes a need for spiritual connection and reconnection, the book gracefully dodges the trap of coming off as pedantic or evangelist. For a book that falls primarily into the genre of fantasy, its world feels jarringly real, and its characters, remarkably human. While each of these characters display their own nuanced and conflicted ethos, the book’s standout feature is, by far, the depth of humanity demonstrated by its strong female lead, Alexa. She embodies the power of love in such a way that moves the other characters of the book into action and challenges the reader to think bigger about what love looks like. The redemptive character arc of King Gregor follows closely behind as one of the book’s most compelling attributes.

Valencia’s approach to plot is both unexpected and intriguing. Readers who are expecting a level of action that is somewhat teased by the book’s premise may walk away disappointed unless they are able to, instead, invest themselves into the book’s otherwise rich world building. Although the book has its exhilarating moments, Valencia opts to foreground the drama and relationships of the story and the textured history of its people. This emphasis on world building is further illustrated by the use of poems or songs that more deeply explore the universe’s mythos to separate the book’s two-part structure and create the sense of place that makes the story so unique.

Song of Turand: Opening Aria: Legends from Turand addresses today’s problems in a way that is accessible and enjoyable; it leaves you asking difficult questions and yearning to connect with something bigger.