In the port city of Penderyn, Silbrey once served as a soldier for the cruel, ambitious guildmaster. Silbrey escaped the city and her life of violence by rushing into marriage and motherhood. Now she returns to Penderyn to atone for her crimes and confront the guildmaster who controlled her.
Silbrey discovers there is more to her past than even she realized, beyond the familiar cobbled streets of the city. What begins as a fairy tale transforms in an epic adventure about love and loss—and a woman with a strange connection to the natural world.
A former soldier must confront her past and the despotic plutocrat she once served in this fantasy.
Timon, a priest of the god Taraki in Penderyn, raises a foundling he names Piper. A wild girl, Piper keeps running away to the city and eventually stays there, making a modest living with odd jobs and begging. In the wealthy quarter, Piper jumps a mansion’s fence and is challenged by its owner, Dahlia Tulan. Dahlia is the city’s guildmaster—fabulously wealthy, powerful, and ruthless—and though she intends to kill the trespasser, Piper fights back valiantly. The guildmaster instead adopts the girl, renaming her Silbrey, and has her trained as a cold, brutal enforcer. But Silbrey discovers her heart when she falls in love with Callis, a handsome shepherd in the marketplace. Disguising her violent past from him, Silbrey gets permission from Dahlia to leave the city with him. But there’s a catch: Neither can ever return. Years later, Silbrey doesn’t know how to tell her daughter and husband they mustn’t go to Penderyn market. When they do, disaster strikes, bringing Silbrey back to the city, where she will not only face off against Dahlia, but also deal with her true self. In his series opener, Hopkins writes graceful and sinewy prose that vividly describes action, emotion, and inner life. His thoughtful, captivating worldbuilding is less socially hidebound than that of many fantasy sagas, as with Silbrey’s attraction “to men, to women, and to people who didn’t fit into these crude categories.” An open-content scheme means other writers may use Hopkins’ setting and its rich ground for storytelling. Debut illustrator Decena contributes lovely, intricately crosshatched monochrome pictures that capture the book’s atmosphere.
An accomplished and well-written tale leaving readers eager to keep exploring this intriguing world.