Release Date: November 1st, 2012Age Group: Adult
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The saints favor her, else-wise a peasant girl like Kate Carpenter would never be apprenticed to the kingdom’s master healer. But her patron saint also marks her ready for the duty of tending to a mission that must cross the ice-bound mountains. Their little kingdom faces invasion by a vast empire and desperately needs allies; across the snow-filled pass, through the deathly thin air, is a country that’s held off the empire and may be willing to lend an army.
Kate knows about frostbite and the everyday injuries of wilderness travel. She can heal those.
She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though.
And she isn’t ready for the monsters that harry them night and day, picking off their archers first, wearing the party to exhaustion, pushing Kate beyond the limits her healing abilities.
She must keep them alive, or her blood will be on the snow too.
I’m a bit conflicted about this book. I really liked the ideas and the story in general, but there seems to be something missing. The beginning is a bit confusing, but that’s ok, because our main character, Kate, doesn’t know what’s really happening either. So even though I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, I was ok with it, because I thought all would be explained later on. But that’s just it, it wasn’t, really. We do get bits of explanation here and there, but it’s not enough to help create a solid image in the reader’s head. You know, when I’m reading a book, it’s like a movie is playing in my head. When bits and pieces are missing, the movie just doesn’t make sense and has some holes in it.
I did really enjoy the ideas behind this story, such as the notion of “kir”. It’s some sort of magic/life force that flows through everyone’s body and of which you have a daily portion to use. For example, when you’re in pain (let’s say: a headache), the kir is all knotted and tangled up. A physician, like Kate, our main character, can untie those knots with her abilities and give you some relief. I think that’s very imaginative and a really great idea.
Also the “Blessings” were a great contribution to this story. There are people who have Blessings (speed, memory, strength) they can use to serve their country. Especially the way these Blessings manifest themselves physically was a very bold choice: they can be seen as ridges of the same material as sheep or goat horns on the body. Scar tissue and all. Not very attractive but it gives a certain edges to the way I imagine the characters in my head, they don’t look like normal people, which is great in a Fantasy story.
As for the writing, it certainly wasn’t bad. I felt for the characters and the connection I value so much when reading a book was there. Though the story was, in my opinion, very character driven, there was a bit of worldbuilding, which I liked, but I wouldn’t have minded a little bit more of it. It seemed like all the scenario’s went by a little fast, like I was scanning a landscape without letting the details soak in, more like a glimpse.
The rating: I would give this book 4 dragons based on the story alone, but with the gaps in explanation, I had to pull it down to 3 dragons. This is one of those books that has great potential, but hasn’t really gotten there yet.