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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
From the moment of Ayn’s royal birth, his future was predestined. Ayn was the reincarnation of the great Adin and would save his world from turmoil, disease and war. In Shiva XIV: The Shiva XIV Series Book 1, by Lyra Shanti, we meet the young boy who will grow up to be king. Not everything is as it should be though, and Ayn is torn by doubt and uncertainty as to whether he is indeed a god. Born with an unusual sexual orientation, the boy is constantly torn between his devotion to his teachers and mentors, his duty to his country and his desire to be simply a boy. On Ayn’s fourteenth birthday, he is due to be crowned and recognised by his people as a king and a god, but on that day, all hell breaks loose at the castle and Ayn and his new friend, Zin, make their escape from the certain death that was awaiting him to begin an adventure through the galaxy.
This is the first in a series of books focusing on Shiva XIV by Lyra Shanti, and she gives us ample opportunity to meet, understand and invest ourselves in the young characters, especially Ayn and Zin. As science fiction, this story appealed because it made no pretensions of being overtly technical, it just happened that the coming-of-age story was set on another planet among different species. This made it extremely readable for those of us who like sci-fi, but sometimes get lost in the author’s overactive imagination. There are a couple of aspects that I particularly liked about the story. The backstory of Ayn’s sexuality was only briefly touched on in passing in this book, but I am sure future stories will focus more on whether indeed he is male or female, or both. This aspect of the story is particularly relevant for young people in today’s confusing sexual world. The second thing I loved about Shanti’s writing in Shiva XIV was the deep emotions she evoked in her characters. They were not afraid to show their emotions and “wore them on their sleeve”, so to speak. The character of Pei is fascinating and I’m sure will be explored even more in future episodes. As the start of a series, I would have to say this looks fantastic and well worth getting into.