The next book I’ve chosen to read was a fantasy that combined viking and native American inspiration. A fast-paced and somewhat violent story with an unexpected ending.
This story was on my potential read list for quite a while – the author has asked for opinions on the cover in a Goodreads group I am a part of, and I liked the cover enough back then to put it on my TBR with no clear ETA – which came to pass now.
The story starts with a scene between young Murid and Hafoca, who is to be Murid’s future husband but, at that point, seems like a boasting jerk rather than a prince. Their nations – the Vikistotes – bear some viking inspiration, so that may actually be a decent fit. Anyway, their meeting is cut short by an attack by the Corlain army after which Murid’s parents die and she leaves with Hafoca and his father to his land, where she learns about a prophecy: that one who survived a massacre will eventually rise up and bring about the Corlain empire’s end.
The next chapter introduces the second group in the story, a tribe with native American elements – a pair of youngsters hunting a turklyo, an animal whose stone parts are used as conduit for their magic. This chapter works well to give a hint into the tribe’s powers by an action-filled example. Once the two return to their village, the tribe celebrates. However, in the morning, the Corlains show out of nowhere and pretty much level the village, leaving only the pair and an old crone from another tribe as the survivors. Having no better idea, they decide to head towards Murid’s people, as the crone knows they are in a conflict with the Corlains as well and may be able to accept them.
The next chapter then shows Murid on the verge of adulthood, nearing the point where she’ll have to marry Hafoca who may seem strong on the outside but his courage is lacking and his bravado is just show-off – which adds sympathy for Murid’s character and her goals. Only now it’s revealed that the first chapter with Murid was taking place some 15-ish years in the past – there was no “15 years later” or something that would outright mention it, which had me a bit confused, more so with the other PoV between this.
The last PoV, which appears a bit later, is a violent commander of the Corlain army – specifically, one of its unit, filled by likewise brutal warriors. The scenes he has set him up well as the antagonist.
As both groups are shaken by the recent events, and both would like to do something about it, this turns into a “who is the real chosen one” for a moment, as both Two Dogs and Murid would want to defeat the Corlains. It also leads to a bit of cultural conflict – with the Corlains on their doorstep, the Vikisotes refuse to end their celebration and evacuate in fear of angering their gods, which Two Dogs struggles to believe and considers it an unacceptable risk. When it (unsurprisingly) goes wrong, he then blames Muira’s foolishness for the cost he’s paid for it, and it leads to quite a confrontation after the battle.
Then, the story comes to an abrupt end that I definitely didn’t expect, and that felt a bit strange. Without spoilers, I can say it’s an open ending that offers a different view on the Corlains. It works to close the story in some way, just not the way I’d expect. And the sudden change from fast-paced story to a slow “outro” is also a bit too obvious.
After that, the book contains a separate bonus story – an unedited piece from the author’s childhood which is very flawed (the author admits it), but it was a nice reminder that we all start somewhere and that one’s first attempts at storytelling will be far from perfect.
Read date: 2.-4.4.2021
Goodreads/Amazon rating: 3,56/3,8
My rating: 75% (bonus story not rated)
Length: 449 pages (Kindle edition) – the story makes ~77%, the bonus story ~20%
As said above, the book works well for most of the part due to its great pacing, but the end doesn’t exactly match that. It’s more food for thoughts than a conclusion.