Wow. This book is amazing. It has everything I love about fantasy and is so good!
Davon, youngest son of the king, was the last person anyone expected to take the throne after the disappearance of his father, but now he is the new king and is responsible for quelling the thimmaru rebels who continue to defy the throne.
Eaton is a rebel who has undergone the thimmaru ritual, journeying into death in order to gain protection from the old god against the demons that now control the land. Disappointed that the rebels won’t journey to the capital to rescue their leader from the king’s tower, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
Bissy, best friend of Eaton and hopelessly in love with him (despite her affections not being returned), seeks to rally the rebels and support Eaton in his daring rescue mission.
Meanwhile, assassin in training Marla is sent on a quest by the king that could throw the country into turmoil.
This is a long book told through the point of view of five different characters, but it is written so well that you get sucked into the world and the story is over all too soon.
Each character is distinct, realistic and a genuine person. They live and breathe on the page. My favorites were Bissy, who reminded me a little of Molly Grue from The Last Unicorn, and Garin the assassin master.
The book has a rich, intricate plot with lots of personal and political intrigue. While this is the first in a trilogy, and the story isn’t resolved by the end of the novel, there is enough resolution to be satisfying. However, I hope the second book is published soon as I can’t wait to read it!
The world building is incredible. This is my dream type of fantasy, where magic is part of the very fabric of the world and it’s people, where everything makes sense within the world, has rules and reason for being and history and it is all so believable that I feel I could walk right into the world depicted in the book. The details – from the belief system, government, down to little things like food and drink – are so expertly realized and revealed that every moment reading this book was a joy. There were no ponderous passages full of exposition, but at the same time important details were revealed at the right time so I was never confused about what was going on.
The situation between the monarchy led new religion of offering tribute to the five mercenary gods in order to control the demons that plague the land, and the persecution of the rebels that remain faithful to the old god, brought to mind the situation in 16th century England where Catholics were punished for not following the new religion, and many believed things would return to the old ways once Henry was no longer on the throne.
I loved how the author subverted the idea of zombies by turning the thimmaru ritual into a form of baptism that confirms the believers fidelity to the old god and guarantees them protection against the demons.
I also admired how Duffield-Fuller handled the character of Marla. The character closest to a young adult fantasy cliche, the assassin in training draws the adoration of all the male characters and could have easily fallen into a one dimensional trope, but the author manages to flesh her out enough to keep her interesting.
This book is so well written and perfectly paced, the only time I was drawn out of the narrative was when the outdoor earth of a field was referred to as the floor. It is very rare that I get so immersed in a book that I forget that I’m reading, but this book swept me up from page one.
An original, imaginative, absorbing fantasy that is a delight and extremely satisfying on an intellectual and emotional level, I can’t wait to continue the series. I highly recommend this book.
I award Felgrim…