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Stronghold by Kesha Bakunin

Intricately constructed, intense, and powerful… A knockout.

Combining elements of fantasy and science fiction, Bakunin draws readers deeper into the extraordinary setting and character in this compelling, challenging, and utterly fascinating work. While kingdoms rise and fall, an uncanny entity with very different goals is taking it all in. Shrouded in mystery, it remains an enigma. Someday its secret will unravel. But will that be the dawn of a new beginning? Bakunin immerses readers in a multifaceted and intricate world of warring powers, warped morals, and twisty motivations. Set in multiple timelines, the story follows the rise and fall of the Ashkaratti Dynasty. Rather than merely assuming various details, Bakunin has created fully developed multiple secondry worlds, each of them a universe in their own right. The depth and skill with which Bakunin draws his multi-layered characters, each struggling with their own individual burdens and desires, make them come out alive on the pages: he sketches Deesrai and Sha perfectly, the twins, nearly powerless but fiercely determined, capturing their insecurities, fears as well as the will to survive on their own terms; Provost, who remains in shadows for the most part, is equally compelling; Some characters are admirable, some of them are despicable (Simon, despite his noble intentions); Troubled, melancholy Zortan is very different from the moderate Nodar, but he proves just as compelling as he remains wallowing in his tragedies; As the narrative progresses, the twins become the characters as troubled, complex, and fascinating as Untu, whose character remains intriguing until the end. Iskorian capital of Morratong and the people who live there are vividly drawn, and the hazards they face are both timely and palpable. Skillfully juggling a seemingly impossible plethora of various timelines, settings, and characters, Bakunin builds to a thrilling series of revelations that keep readers turning pages nonstop. There are individual struggles for identity, life purpose, self-discovery along with the exploration of resilience of human spirit and humanity’s innate ability to stand tall in the face of hardships and move on, but politics and religion make the heart of the novel. Themes of absolutism, oppression, imperialism, resistance, disruptive politics, liberation, the needs of the society versus those of the individuals, and humanity’s inherent faults despite the time period resonate throughout. Vivid characters, a tautly constructed plot, and outstanding worldbuilding blend into an impressive story of power struggles, political maneuverings, and individual sorrows that will greatly appeal to lovers of serious literary fiction. This is a winner.


By Kesha Bakunin

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Pub date June 1, 2021

ISBN 978-1637529379

Price $28.87 (USD) Paperback, $7.99 Kindle

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