I picked this one up on a reddit thread, where someone posted asking for authors of indie books with a small number of reviews to post their work. I picked up 22 on that thread, and this will be #9 that I’ve finished.
I didn’t know anything about it going in, and I was pleasantly surprised by the book, there was a lot I liked about it.
Marta: Born to an affluent family that guards secrets about the use of magic in their world, she’s one of 3 siblings, the middle child. She’s our main POV, and although there are a few instances where the POV jumps from Marta to someone else, 95% of the book is through Martas POV. She’s been battle hardened and isn’t squeamish about killing people, in fact she considers killing them quickly a mercy – for people she doesn’t like she kills them slowly. She’s known as a Shaper and can use Breath to form solid objects.
Carmichael: Marta’s older brother, who has been nothing but a douche bag to her since their childhood. He’s a Whisperer, and can use his Breath to affect other peoples minds.
Isabella/Lucas – “Freebooters” who team up with Marta about halfway through the book
Caddie: a young girl who’s been traumatized, and Marta is on a mission to return her to her father – and maybe kill the father too, who knows.
There’s a lot going on here in the plot, it’s a civil war kind of book with the East and West at odds over their faith. The faith of Sol is a huge part of the book, and a big part of the lives of these people. They believe that their god split himself into billions of pieces of Breath that gave life to everything on Ayr (they’re world). Plants have 1 Breath, animals have 2 Breaths, and humans have 3 Breaths. If you have a fourth Breath you’re known as Blessed, and you can perform different magical abilities depending on where your fourth Breath resides in your body. The standards are chest, forehead, and crown of the head representing the Body, Mind and Soul.
The magic system is somewhat complicated to try and type it all out for a review, but suffice to say that there are Renders and Weavers, and they disagree on what blasphemy is and isn’t. Weavers can create “festations” which are mindless slaves that serve until death, and the Renders find that to be against the will of Sol.
Marta served in the Grand War when these two factions clashed, and it didn’t go well for her. Through the book we get two parts of the story, the present and the past. Each chapter goes back and forth from past to present filling, with the middle being revealed as we go along.
It was pretty fast paced, between the action going on in the past with the Grand War, and Marta’s new mission in the present, we get to see a ton of monsters of all sorts. Glassmen are definitely some of the creepiest.
Tone: I don’t want to say it was bleak, but it wasn’t uplifting either. Instead of “adventure” I would say this is more of a stealth/spy tension kind of tone. Martas family is a family full of spies and deceitful people trying to win a war, there isn’t much levity and there’s not much in the way of comic relief. It wasn’t overly bleak though, it wasn’t like the end of the world and everything is horrifying, it’s just that the main characters story is more of a tragic one. When we see the beginning that Marta was a very different person, and seeing what’s happened to her over the years to change her into what she is now is rather sad.
There was extensive world building in this book, we get 3 maps – one with a zoomed out view of the whole world, and a zoomed in version of East and West, there are tons of cities, towns, and different ecosystems throughout this world. There’s different cultures, traditions, magic uses, histories and politics. There was a bit of info dumping, but it wasn’t too bad, most of it was drip fed so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- People who prefer single POV
- People who really like battles/fights
- People who like a ton of magic in the world
- People looking for a female protag
- People looking for ‘something different’
- People who don’t like time hopping may get annoyed