In the clash under the lifted veil many (kinds) once fought for dominance in the land. Now, what people believe about their world and the past is far from the truth, and the history of everything has been suppressed by an oppressive empire. There is violence against whispered stories of legends that have roots in truth. Two will catch the empires attention and threaten to make the past known.
That’s the early hook of a tense, surprising fantasy that blends earthbound politicking and Keep life with the most high-flying of winged action. Rennah’s fate and the mystery of her past will keep readers turning the pages, but plenty of other simmering conflicts preoccupy Jen and the Kestens both: Dathka’s elf-hating Sepheran chafe at obeying the empire’s orders, and the Keeps are a source of the illegal nepenthenica herb that, among other effects, drives Sepheran into rages. Meanwhile, the younger Kestens have schemes of their own, another army approaches, and the elves of the Fogwood have an agenda, too.
Dockery builds this world through scenes and conversations, teasing out backstories and hidden drives, plus the shrouded past of a land whose rulers have forbidden knowledge. The worldbuilding is unpredictable and accomplished. Seasoned readers of lengthy fantasies will feel right at home, though Rennah, the novel’s heart, is often sidelined during all this setup, but eventually, hearteningly, seizes her place in her world and narrative. Dathka, though, proves a complex and engaging perspective character, working against his own instincts for purposes that get more interesting the more Dockery reveals. Winged and bird-related magic is appealingly depicted, and the rousing climax, cliffhangers, and glimpses of the broader world make the buildup worth the investment.
Takeaway: This tense kickoff to a fantasy series takes wing with worldbuilding and mysteries.
Great for fans of: Glenda Larke, Gail Z. Martin.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A