By: Alexandra Bracken
Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country - and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets - about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?
I really enjoyed this book. It's interesting to read a fantasy stand-alone (usually there just isn't enough time to fully flesh out the world), but this book did that really well. It had a lot of typical fantasy aspects, but in a really interesting way.
Things I liked:
-I loved Sydelle. She's smart and independent. She acted as a heroine, rather than just reacting. I loved her dynamic with North as well. She didn't let him get away with stuff, she called him on his attitude in a way that helped him grow.
-I loved North. He was confusing at times and pretty frustrating, but you always knew that he meant well. As I said, I loved his and Syd's dynamic. I particularly love that he was given a very decisive arc in this story, he's not some perfect hero. He had to grow up a bit in this book, which he did admirably with Syd's help.
-I thought the political aspect was very well done. Things happened quickly in the political aspect, but the alliances and the possibility of war as described made sense in the context of the world.
-A well-written villain. I thought that Dorwan was going to be left as this sort of faceless threat until the end, but I liked that we learned his story. Then he delivered lines like this that made me realize how well his motive was thought out.
"You talk of curses as if they're some sort of rarity. They aren't. Everyone is cursed, from the farmer with the pain in his back to the girl who can destroy worlds," Dorwan said. "And do you know how you destroy a curse, Sydelle? You become one. You consume your fear and become it. You plague everyone and everything that dares to hurt you or stand in your way."
-I loved the immersive quality of the world. It took we a lot longer to read this book than it usually takes me, but I think that probably has more to do with NaNoWriMo and all the time that's taking out of my schedule. When I did pick up the book, I didn't really want to put it down.
Things I Disliked:
-At the beginning the writing was extremely confusing. It felt like whole sentences were missing. By this I mean that it wouldn't mention anything about rain and then a suddenly it'll say something like, "It stopped raining."
-Even toward the end the writing was sort of choppy in a way that I wasn't fond of. It didn't flow the way I typically like the fantasy books I read to flow.
-A couple things could have stood to be fleshed out or even just explained a bit more.
"Do you know what this wench just accused me of being?"
"A filthy pig," North said good-naturedly. "But there's only one filthy pig allowed in her life, and the position's been filled."
"The glass and petals...They're refired into new shapes and forms. It's meant to show that even if the city is set forth into ruin, it can always be built back up. We're a city of re-creators, you know. It's in our blood to start again."
"Love him," she said. "For someone who has grown up hating himself and fearing that there's nothing for him in this world but pain, there is no greater gift."
"How do you tell someone that he is a part of your past, and not of your future?"