Thursday, 22 July 2010
416 pages, Paperback
Nayuleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Summary from Solaris
Cloaked in silent winter snow the Kingdom of Rolencia sleeps as rumours spread of new Affinity Seeps, places where untamed power wells up. Meanwhile, King Rolen plans his jubilee unaware of the growing threat to those he loves.
By royal decree, all those afflicted with Affinity must serve the Abbey or face death. Sent to the Abbey because of his innate Affinity, the King’s youngest son, Fyn, trains to become a warrior monk. Unfortunately, he’s a gentle dreamer and the other acolytes bully him. The only way he can escape them is to serve the Abbey Mystic, but his Affinity is weak.
Fiercely loyal, thirteen year-old Piro is horrified to discover she is also cursed with unwanted Affinity. It broke their mother’s heart to send Fyn away, so she hides her affliction. But, when Fyn confesses his troubles, Piro risks exposure to help him.
Even though Byren Kingson is only seven minutes younger than his twin, Lence, who is the king's heir, Byren has never hungered for the Rolencian throne. When a Seer predicts that he will kill Lence, he laughs. But Lence Kingsheir sees Byren’s growing popularity and resents it. Enduring loyalty could be Byren’s greatest failing.
There are a few things I'd like to talk about before I get to the main review. Firstly, take a look at the cover. Mostly I pick out a book on the blurb alone. The cover does influence me a little. I admit, I might not pick up this cover because it has me thinking 'male hero, no females, an ok book but not top of my list'. Please don't make that mistake (you'll see why shortly). I would have picked it up because there is a quote from Gail Z Martin on the front (I love her books). It goes to show if the reader knows the author quoted on the front, they may take notice of the book. I was actually more swayed by the wonderful trailer.I love the anime style of it. And I loved the cover for book two :)
On to the book! The book blurb has no mention of Piro. Which is a real pity. Don't get me wrong. Byren is a fully engaging character. He's funny, he has a lot of problems which he deals with as well as he can. He sticks up for his friend, but this is at great cost to himself, and has a lot of implications for his future. He cares a lot about his family, and doing the right thing. I cared about him early on. I was in awe of his fighting skills, and also the level of responsibility he has. He always looks out for others, putting their needs first even if they relationship with him is questionable. (People may seem friendly, but they aren't always). It's not easy working alongside his brother when their relationship is cracking up.
His younger brother Fyn is equally engaging. He's a sweet boy, caring like his brother, more so because he doesn't like killing things. He is forced into a position he doesn't really want, and bears up under the pressure as well as he can. However, not all monks are peaceful. There are a lot of internal politics within the monastery, which directly affect Fyn because of his status. I really enjoyed all the intrigue here (and in other parts of the book, but mostly here). It isn't pleasant, and there were a lot of cushion moments. However, events here are more than just superficial rivalry between the master monks. No, there is much more at stake, which is hinted at a little throughout the book, culminating in lots of drama near the end. Fyn is the younger/older brother I would have loved to have.
The star of the show has to be Piro. The blurb on the back of the back shamefully doesn't mention her. I find her hilarious. She tries so hard to do things right, but really doesn't like the position in life that her status dictates she should have. She also has a secret, a secret she hides from everyone. Sadly secrets can't be hidden forever, and when it comes out she learns that other people have their secrets too. As is often the case (but this is a theme I don't mind in books) Piro has the odd undesirable suitor. How she reacts is really funny (although quite dangerous too). However, she has a very large role to play. She takes risks that are as great as her brothers' risks in battle. She has spirit, and is able to help both her brothers with their problems. I'm so proud of Piro. I was almost cheering with how much guts she has (there is literal guts in the book, but this is the metaphorical kind). She is by far my favourite character, and I'm eyeing up the postbox for the next book.
I think we are fortunate that this trilogy is being released over a couple of months - I would have hated to wait a year or more for the next instalment. I have a theory about one plot thread, and I'm waiting to see if I'm right about it :)
You can enter a competition to win a copy right here!
Make sure you check out book two, coming out in August, The Uncrowned King (I love this cover!)
More news on the trilogy, and Rowena, can be found on her website.
And check out her guest blog in the next post!
If you want something to sink your teeth into before then, check out The Deeds of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon