This book takes you to a far away country called Hallandren. The capital, a colourful city near the sea, T’Telir is not your average capital. The inhabitants worship those heroes who have fallen and have been reborn as gods, also known as the Returned.
When an old treaty cannot be broken the Royal Family, long since exiled in another country: Idris, sends a daughter to be betrothed to the God King. With her coming to T’Telir, everything changes drastically and she finds that nothing is like she had expected it to be.
It’s funny, Vasher thought, How many things begin with my getting thrown into prison.
Personally I think that the first sentence of a book is very important. When that sentence sucks or is unclear, it might cause the reader of that particular book to think: Meh… might not be that bad. But when one enters a book with that thought, you’re already done for.
This book however had a very good first line!
It introduces one of the main characters called Vasher and it made me wonder about him a little more.Thoughts like: Why the hell did you get thrown into prison?! Or: So… you have a very strange sense of humour there, mister… Filled my mind and so the prologue was swiftly read.
As a reader you’ll enter the story at this point:
Years ago, centuries ago actually, the Royal Family ran away from Hallandren (for reason you’ll find fully explained in the book) and began the Royal Line for the kingdom of Idris. From that moment, the Returned ruled Hallandren. It almost sounds like an oligarchy doesn’t it? (Oligarchy: Meaning that a select group of powerful individuals rule an empire/kingdom etc).
Anyway, a treaty was set up some twenty years before this story begins, stating that the King of Idris should send one of his daughters away to marry the God King (Yes, the Returned are gods and there is one to rule them all… kind of like Lord of the Rings if you think about it. One god to rule them all… hah).
From there on you’ll enter chapter one, where you’ll meet Siri (youngest daughter of the King of Idris) and Vivenna (eldest daughter).
Siri is your typical youngster who lives life the way she wants to. She ignores everyone, she does as she pleases and everyone has a kind of love/hate relationship with her. She loves being the unimportant one in the family.
Vivenna au contraire has to act the total opposite. she is the one prepared for an arranged marriage. She goes to classes, listens to her teachers and is all about controle and sacrificing herself for her country.
All seems to go very well at this point, right? But no, something is about to change.
War is coming, or at least everyone thinks it is coming. And so the king makes a decision: He will not send his eldest daughter but his youngest.
This event changes the whole thing. Not Vivenna is send to the capital of T’Telir but Siri is going instead. This because her father is not all that fond of Siri and he doesn’t want to send the daughter he loves most to certain death…. so like every father with half a brain would do; He sends the one he likes less… of course.
Siri suddenly becomes very important and Vivenna becomes well… insignificant. Siri is sent to T’Telir and everyone expects Vivenna to just stay at home and do nothing because she is a well educated and smart young woman who would never do anything out of the ordinary. But here’s the thing: She does something no one else expected her to do. Vivenna takes off to follow her youngest sister to T’Telir, to save her.
(A lot of family drama going on here!)
From that chapter one, almost everything takes place in that nowadays T’Telir.
I will not spoil any more of this story for you because I want you to read it yourself, because this story is great, but I will tell you one more thing:
– not everything is the way it seems in the beginning. By sending his youngest daughter out to marry this God King, things really start to get interesting. As a reader you will follow the story from at least 4 perspectives: Siri’s, Vivenna’s, a god called Light Song and Vasher (remember? The one in jail in the prologue? spoiler: He has a sword called Nightblood and it can talk!). Even though there are a lot of perspectives in this story, it didn’t annoy me. Also, you’ll feel more connected to the characters themselves because you’ll know the reasons for their actions, their thoughts and their feelings.
Anyway, for me it didn’t feel like an interception when another story-line took over because it gave me the feeling of having a complete story. By getting to know the characters better, I eventually got the complete story from start to finish. Questions such as: How can someone become a returned? Who is this god king person?! How is Siri going to get through this? and Why do I have the feeling that something is happening that shouldn’t be happening? All those questions were answered in the end.
For the first time in a long(ish) time I am very positive about a book.
I could easily connect with the characters, all of them were well formed. They all felt real to me, he made me understand why his characters were doing certain things and he really did a good job on showing me their perspective on things. It was nice to see how all characters sort of grew/changed from the start to finish.
I liked the humour in the book (for example when Vasher’s blade Nightblood seems very glad that he killed allot of people). I like the fact that he took time to describe a lot of what was going on so that I could really have a clear view of this world he put me in for that short time.
Though I had some issues with Vivenna, with her all being like; I have come to this place where I know sooo much about because I was very important and was taught everything by my teachers back in Idris. Also I have tons of preconceptions about everything… besides; I am a princess and I am better than all of you in every way.
So even though I had issues with her being like I described before, in the end she turned out okay. She went through some rough times and it changed her.
To end this review:
This book is just amazing. If you are into Fantasy/SF you should definitely read this. I really enjoyed myself, I laughed and cried while reading it.
It is a standalone and so you don’t need to read something else in order to understand what’s going on.
I give this book: