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Edition Kindle Edition, 524 pages
Published on October 6th 2009 by Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA Fantasy
A great story of courage and strength, with strong male and female characters that can be great role models, a very interesting world and history that has ramifications in the present and a great writing style! (aka 4 stars out of 5!)
I have to admit I had a blast while reading this book. Clearly this is a YA fantasy book yet it is deeper than other YA fantasy I have read, especially lately. It almost feels to me that it could be a good transition book between YA and adult fantasy because of the depth of the characters, a fairly intricate world explained in a very linear manner and the themes that are tapped into. The story also makes the characters deal with betrayal, court deceit and deaths and other type of violence.
In a nutshell, I really loved it and, comparing it to other YA, it is one of my favorite so far. It does not hurt one bit that the writing is really good and it took me no time to get used to the rhythm and the story (it is not always the case, also when you read amazing books!). In short, the book is really fast to go through even if it is around 500 pages. I was engaged in the story and I cared a lot for some characters (well at least more than others) and I felt like sharing the contempt against the villains of the story which to me signifies that the villains were really good – or at least the villains hit the right notes to make me despise them!
The review might be a bit lengthy but I hope it will be a good guidance if you are interested in picking this book up. One last note, I have read the book as an ebook with the audiobook (yes, it seems the lazy reading version but it allows me to better get all the details!)! Also,
Plot and storytelling:
The book is written following several PoW and this was inevitable because of the different story lines being developed and they are nicely expanded but not in such detail that makes the plot obvious. There are still quite some twists and turns so that the book ends up being extremely engaging.
There are several general topics that are touched throughout the book: The corruption of power, the influence of strong figures on a frivolous woman, war and its effects, nature and its importance of preservation, and so on and so forth. Yet, they do not feel overwhelming; there is the right amount of the right ingredient to make the story interesting and provide the reader with more depth than a mere story to read.
I also particularly enjoyed the magic system and the clear explanation that was given. If one likes magic for the sake of magic, this is a good book. If one likes magic and he or she likes a magic system that is properly explained and it is clear in its structure and existence, then this is a very good book for that. The world is pretty much based on two types of magic that cannot be used by the same people at the same time. On one side there is the green magic, the magic that the Clans (pretty much those who are in balance with nature) can yield – but the yielding covers healing and magic artifacts. The green magic wielders are not mages in the traditional sense. On the other side, there is the high magic, the more traditional magicians, yet for them to use their powers, they need amulets and other green magic artifacts. It is a world in balance and structured this way after the war following the Demon King almost destruction of the world and Hanalea’s rebuilding of the world, around one thousand years before the events of the books.
Yes, so there is also quite some history in the book – there are some pages dedicated to teachers explaining Hanalea and the impact of her actions – as depicted in art. I really enjoyed that particular scene of the book (also because it highlighted the importance of education and it was another good message to have in a book!).
I am really in love with certain characters.
Raisa is the first one and this surprised me. I am usually not the fan of main female characters in books (not sure if it is a prima donna reaction to them or if I simply do not find the main female characters very compelling – or simply, I do not get along with them, and we would be back to point one above…) yet, I likes Raisa. She is strong and assertive of her independence which might be the trait I liked the most. I think she is one of the first female main characters that wants her independence, is confident in her independence yet is open to learn and understand more to solidify her independence. Yes, I liked this particular aspect of her character a lot. And yes, you got it, in my mind Raisa equals independence. And I will stop making the parallel.
She is the princess heir and, instead of being the usual princess know-it-all and absolutely selfish, she understands she is a flawed human being and that she needs to work on it in order to become a better queen for her people. To some extent, she fees ordinary in her “normal” traits but she feels extraordinary in the will and efforts she puts into achieving her goals. I found her believable and authentic although she is entangled in what seems a love triangle, although it just turns out that she is sixteen and her hormones just make her head turn around for many many adolescents of about her age.
Hanson (or Hunts Alone, I love this Clan name!) is such a strong willed character. He used to be a street lord – despite his young age – but for the love of his sister mainly and his mother, the gives the delinquent life up and starts working really hard to become a straight shooter. It requires for him to do several jobs, to do a lot of work and to be extremely poor, especially because his mother does not really provide for the family. For most of the book, he is just a “regular” guy who tries to make meats end and, not being so regular, keeps running into trouble, starting from the unpleasant meeting with the young wizards, continuing with his encounter with the queen guards, and finishing in the revelation of who he really is. Actually, that scene is one of my favorite: His reaction to the announcement was so genuine to me that really left a very warm memory of that moment.
He is also a very tormented soul and the deaths at the end of the book really hunt him – and I suspect will continue to do so on the following books – and leave a mark on him. And I have to confess a soft spot for his connection with his sister, the best person in his life and he tries to live up to the expectations of being the big brother.
Amon might be the most “cliché” character yet he filled his role in the best way as the guard for the princess heir Raisa. I am looking forward for more developments here! I am expecting his role to become more and more important and, to some extent, I am curious to see if he can be the first one in his bloodline to actually act upon the love for his princess. I do not want to say more than this, the book will provide plenty of explanations but I am cheering for the Raisa and Amon couple!
The Clan and the Demonai: I loved it. I might be wrong here but this felt more like a Native American setting which I found particularly refreshing. I was really having a blast reading through the scenes dedicated to them and their habits, rituals and system. While I was reading. I really wanted to be there, I really wanted to be part of the Clan and be able to choose my own future. It also provides the setting and upbringing of Anvill Demonai who is a great father figure. I hope he will have more space in the following books because it really feels that his role in this first book was a bit too irrelevant; hopefully this will change starting from the second book in the series!
The Bayars: the evil family and, incidentally, a wizard family. I have to confess a certain propensity to connect the Bayars (and Gavan in particular) to the Malfoys (especially Lucious) – I do not know if the parallel even makes sense but there are some similarities in my opinion. The Bayars, and in particular father and son in this first book, have really big plans to overthrown the balance of a thousand years – Gavan is setting himself as a big influence over queen Mariana, it almost feels like he is ruling the queendom through Mariana and he has a plan to restore high magic to its prominent status, as it was before the Naeming (the truce following the Demon King almost destruction of the world). Yes, Gavan is particularly nasty and annoying but he is so well characterized that it makes him a really good villain! Micah, his son, is an evil soul, as clearly evidence throughout the book but he did not develop the devious planning his father already has so I am curious to see what will be of him in the following books!
In essence, I strongly recommend this book and I already purchased “The Exiled Queen” and I cannot wait to start with that as well!
Have you read the book? Did you like it? What were the best elements of the story? What is the character that you liked the most? Let me know posting down below!