Reading the books on my friend's kindle has meant that there have been a bunch of books that I have tried that I probably would have taken a long time to get to otherwise, if ever. Some of them have been not to my taste. But this one was more than a pleasant surprise. It was, by far and large, really delightful.
In the fantasy post-apocalyptic setting of this
book, humans live in scattered settlements, a few cities, and the past
fading into distant memory and myth. There are stories of before, of
technology and advancement. But with the coming of the demons, the
corelings, human memory was scattered, and existence reduced to survival
against astounding odds.
The corelings rise every night, and
tear everything they can get at limb from limb. After the cities had
been broken and people dispersed, wards were rediscovered, which keep
homes safe from coreling attacks. They are not sure things, though.
Smudging or scratching can blunt or destroy their effectiveness, so they
must be constantly guarded and redrawn. And even so, some mornings
people awake to the burning ruins of their neighbours and friends.
in this world have turned to survival, to becoming more insular,
keeping themselves and their families alive. The numbers of people are
slowly dwindling, but no one looks at the bigger picture - cut off from
each other except for the infrequent forays of Messengers, towns look to
their own and nothing else. Knowledge is fragmented, although there are
hints that if the disparate pieces of information were ever brought
together, more would be possible than anyone thinks.
people are in perfect position to do so, each scarred by encounters with
the corelings. Arlen attempted to save his mother's life from the
corelings while his father cowered, and almost died. Leesha fled her
mother's house to the safety of the local female Healer, and was saved
from coreling attack by Bruna, the Healer. She is scarred both by that
encounter and the reaction of the villagers to her, and to the rumours
spread about her by the man she was supposed to wed. Rojer was protected
in the basement by an entertainer while his parents were killed and
their house burned above him.
As they grow, each discovers
different things. Arlen has a skill for wards, and starts to collect all
the different ones in one place. Followed by his past in very literal
ways, he makes discoveries that threaten to make him into a figure of
legend - or cost his life.
Leesha is tutored in the skills of
healing and even more secret skills of fighting the demons. She is
ostracized by those around her, and persecuted, but her skills grow. She
is also the moral centre, dedicated to healing people no matter what.
Rojer shows an aptitude for music, and discovers the effect of his songs on the corelings.
three come together by the end of the book, and for the first time, the
possibility of more than mere survival looms. I look forward to
learning what comes next!
I enjoyed the world these books
created, the gender politics of the smaller towns, the difficulties of
negotiating such things when there are few other options, the
differences between cities and towns, the semi-feudal state that has
developed, and particularly, the legends, and what happens when legends
seem to come to life.
I've been finding a bunch of fantasies
I've read recently feel like retreads of the same old ground. This feels
fresh, bringing new and interesting aspects to the table, and that is a