“But the world changes. In all the women’s villages of the Empire, this week or next, a soldier like myself will arrive to ask to live in the village, to take up a trade.” Casyn paused, for a breath, a heartbeat. “And to teach you and your daughters to fight.”
With those words, the lives of Lena, fisherwoman of Tirvan village, and her partner Maya change irrevocably. Torn apart by their responses to this request, Maya chooses exile; Lena chooses to stay to defend her village and the Empire, although the rules of the Partition Assembly many generations earlier had divided and circumscribed the lives of men and women. Appointed to leadership, Lena’s concepts of love and loyalty are challenged as she learns the skills of warfare, and, in the aftermath of battle, faces the consequences of her choices. Leaving Tirvan to search for Maya, Lena is drawn into the intrigues and politics of the Empire, forcing her to examine what she most truly believes in.
In the beginning there is a bombardment of characters, the lead character being Lena. They are not too in depth in the beginning but throughout the book the author explores many of the lives and feelings of many women within the village of Tirvan. Lena is very ‘young’ when this all starts and very singular in her thoughts. However, she grows slowly as a character.
The second main character that is mostly alive through Lena is Maya. No matter what I did, I could not bring myself to like Maya. I disliked her from chapter one but she is a catalyst for Lena’s growth and, therefore, necessary. Many of the other characters like Tice and Tali were all excellently deployed to create a vivid world through the eyes of Lena and the people she encounters.
Although the women were interesting, the book really gets good when she second part starts. Once Lena leaves to find Maya she starts to see the world differently. I feel like this is where she grows the most and the strength of the author’s writing really takes off.
The relationships between characters varied. The romance was the strangest aspect of the book for the main character. I understand her need and why she made the choices she did but it was one of the few off putting parts of Lena’s nature. Yet it was minor enough that it didn’t take away from my like of Lena.
The women across the empire had lived one way for 200 years when suddenly everything changes. They can no longer exist as they have and some cannot stand by and watch. It makes sense – some people will never abide by change. They will rebel, ignore, or fight it. The idea of it and the many different reactions was powerful.
The world itself it explained piece by piece as you understand how the empire is constructed. How a way of life has been born out of necessity and then formed into a tradition. It was very interesting as far as world building and setting the stage was this author’s strength. By the end of the book there were lots of pieces broke down and you completely understood the world.
I would like to take the opportunity and give a shout out to the author. While reading the book the most impressive part for me was the level of accuracy of the book. I could tell painstaking research had been done to detail the book. That everything from weapon use to fishing terminology had been thoroughly researched and included.
It was a good book that had a stream of secondary characters and a real life feel. The world was well built and the plot interesting. There was just enough of a romance angle to fill that need and enough internal dialogue that Lena was a very clear character.
The major drawback from the book was the painfully slow plot through the first part of the book. I loved the characters – I loved even the ones that annoyed me because they were woven together perfectly. However, every single detail of what was happening really hampered my imagination. If you are someone who cannot imagine things or needs every details spelled out, this is for you. I think I would have like this book more if there would have been some of it left up to the imagination. It may be great for some but it was a huge drawback for me – if you love Tolkien and the way he described every little detail then you’ll likely enjoy how detailed this author gets. Unfortunately, I did not. As a fantasy reader I expect that some of it will be left up to my imagination so that my own creativity can work its way in – that didn’t happen here.
I also wasn’t very happy with the predictability of the book. I like to be surprised in the book and I rarely was. That being said I have always been quick to pick up plots and hidden meanings. Anyone else reading this would likely have missed a few parts but with the slow pace I was able to figure out all the angles. It has enough twists and turns that happen, that it gives it a feeling of real life.
That being said I would encourage the author to consider writing historical-fiction (or even historical non-fiction) books. The author’s level of detail and specificity on many subjects showed she had taken care to make sure everything included was accurate. It was more informative then adventure and had expertly done world building more then emotionally driven action scenes.
For me it was okay – still an enjoyable read. I have a feeling many other people would have loved the level of detail. It deserves the 3 stars and based solely on the attention to detail I wish I could give it 4 stars. Despite its drawbacks the second half flowed much more quickly and I felt I was gaining ground by the end. There were very few grammatical errors despite the level of detail and there were only a few times that I was confused at who was talking. However, I felt like parts of Tolkien’s books were like this author’s books and just drug on for me because of all the detail. If you are a fan of Tolkien’s writing and his determination to write every detail – you should read this book as well. Not an epic adventure but the world constructed is as detailed and nearly as complicated that I feel those readers would enjoy this as well.
Where did I get it?
The author sent me a copy in exchange of an honest review.