Author: Curtis Craddock
One of the best fantasy series starters I’ve read in a very, very long time.
The star of this story is the world-building, hands down. The world these people live in is just so unique and creative and well thought out. The magic system is fascinating and utilized perfectly. The oppressive religion is believable and has an appropriate impact on the story. The way the author blends actual Earth culture with these fantastical variations makes for such a great premise, and the story doesn’t disappoint.
The characters are only second to the world-building. Isabelle is a great protagonist. She’s intelligent and witty, has reasonable strength and weaknesses, has a strong personality with a perfect mix of vulnerability thrown in, and the way the author builds her characterization around her disability instead of reducing her to a one-note character whose entire existence is about her disability made her a believable heroine in my eyes.
Similarly, Jean-Claude as Isabelle’s father figure and mentor, as well as a bold and witty hero made him an excellent character too. I enjoyed both the POVs in this book equally, which is something I don’t think has happened in a very long time.
The supporting cast, interestingly enough, was also well done, even though many of the characters only had minor roles. I’m looking forward to seeing how some of them develop in the sequel.
If this book has any significant weakness, I’ve got to say the third act is a bit overstuffed. There are a few too many plot twists, a bit too much action — the story gets very heavy at the tail end, with so many developments thrown in at the last minute.
It’s not so overstuffed that you can’t follow it, however, if you’re paying attention, but it’s skirting that border in some places, and I think the author could have thinned out some of the plot points in the third act, streamlined things a bit, without losing anything significant.
Overall, though, this was a very enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to the sequel.