Blurb: Born of frost and bound to fire, she will sacrifice everything to keep her sisters safe.
Ynya Oblique returns from a fishing expedition to find her parents slaughtered, her village razed, and her sisters kidnapped by the tyrant Frost Queen of the North. After burying her parents, Ynya vows vengeance on those that have wronged her. She heads south to find her older sister Synol. But Synol will not listen and soon Ynya learns that her sister’s marriage may have led to the death of her parents.
With no one to trust, Ynya must be prepared to make any sacrifice necessary in order to escape and find her two remaining family members. But family bonds are deep and the cost may be too great for her to pay.
"I want our pain to mean something." Nyara's words thrummed through her. "I want to stand tall."
I really enjoyed this third installment in the Terebinth Tree series of short stories. I didn't like it as much as the others, but considering how MUCH I loved them, the author Hannah Heath is still firmly in the lead for being one of my favorite indie authors. My complaints really are minimal: the action in this book isn't as purposeful as in her other stories. This is more of a character tale, which is totally fine. The magic doesn't seem as clearly defined as the others, although it still remains very unique. Don't let those things stop you from diving into this incredible story, though.
The story follows Ailith, a zenith, who is a magician and so powerful she is being recruited to join a group of rebels trying to take down the ruling tyrant in their land. Ailith can hear magic, and use what she hears to form spells. She and her brother have been tasked with a daring rescue for one of the persecuted members of their religion, and while the rescue itself is exciting, it's not the focal point of the story. Ailith struggles to come to terms with her past and who she is, and who people want her to be.
It's hard to review this story without bringing in the other stories in the series, as well. The worldbuilding is consistent with what Heath has been doing so far: creating a rich and varied world with many cultures, worldviews, and belief systems. This can be read as a standalone, but I feel if taken as such, the reader would miss out on the significance of some of the cultural and religious implications for the story. It's such a rich world, that I feel it's definitely worth it to start at the beginning with the first story, The Colors of Fear, followed by Flames of Courage. My personal favorite story by Heath is Vengeance Hunter and can be found in the Phoenix Fiction Writers Anthology, Antiheroes.
Ailith and her brother Dorran somehow have levels of depth that surprised me. It's HARD to create likable, relatable characters with a short story, but Heath does it superbly. The tension is there for Ailith as she tries to reconcile her past and her present. Dorran, while we don't get much of his character arc, provides a sturdy, steadying role in Ailith's life. And Nyara... well, I would have loved to see more of her. She's quirky, wise, and fun.
Heath really shines the most in the themes she explores. Identity, purpose, friendship, family, suffering... there is a poignant moment with Nyara where Ailith must face reality: she can choose to bend and break under the pressure of who she is, or she can embrace herself and her flaws and use it to become who she is meant to be. Suffering is never meaningless, as Nyara tries to point out. And I find myself agreeing. Who we become is forged by pain and how we deal with it. Will we break, too? Or will we become better for it?
I highly recommend this read for all fans of fantasy, not just YA, which is what it is marketed for. Check out the rest of this amazing series. You won't be disappointed.
Blurb: Stripped of both magical and political power, the people he once ruled told he's dead, and now imprisoned in his own magical dungeon, former Emperor Gavin Guile has no prospect of escape. But the world faces a calamity greater than the Seven Satrapies has ever seen... and only he can save it. As the armies of the White King defeat the Chromeria and old gods are born anew, the fate of worlds will come down to one question: Who is the Lightbringer?
And to which Janelle responds enthusiastically, "KIP! KIP! KIP!" And I'll argue with anyone who says it's Gavin.
This series is fascinating. It follows the story of Logan (or Jack, hence the series name) as she grows and develops from a normal teenager to a half-robot, half -human assassin. I've reviewed the previous three books here, here, and here. The series tackles so many fascinating ideas: time travel, artificial intelligence, the balance of faith and science, the combination of humans and androids and the ethics of such a blend.
Blurb: Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.
From the blurb: As the old gods awaken, the Chromeria is in a race to find its lost Prism, the only man who may be able to stop catastrophe, Gavin Guile. But Gavin's enslaved on a galley, and when he finally escapes, he finds himself in less than friendly hands. Without the ability to draft which has defined him . . .
Meanwhile, the Color Prince's army continues its inexorable advance, having swallowed two of the seven satrapies, they now invade the Blood Forest. Andross Guile, thinking his son Gavin lost, tasks his two grandsons with stopping the advance. Kip and his psychopathic half-brother Zymun will compete for the ultimate prize: who will become the next Prism.
Me talking to myself after finishing this book: "Okay, Janelle. Calm down. Take a deep breath." It's that good, guys.
Blurb: A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
Before I get into the review, can we all just agree to take a moment to stare at this beautiful cover art? Yes? Okay, good, because SERIOUSLY.
Blurb: This is the way the world ends. Again.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze -- the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years -- collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She'll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
Just that blurb ALONE set the stage for what I was hoping to be a genre-crossing, mind-bending fantasy epic. I was not disappointed in the least.
Blurb: Gavin Guile is dying.
He’d thought he had five years left—now he has less than one. With fifty thousand refugees, a bastard son, and an ex-fiancée who may have learned his darkest secret, Gavin has problems on every side. All magic in the world is running wild and threatens to destroy the Seven Satrapies.
Worst of all, the old gods are being reborn, and their army of color wights is unstoppable. The only salvation may be the brother whose freedom and life Gavin stole sixteen years ago.
I'll just say this and get it over with. This was an annoying read, that I really liked. You know those types of books... beloved characters, forced into a plot that doesn't really work, with clever writing and moments of pure genius... then something happens that doesn't work for you. This was that type of story.