Review copy provided by the author/publisher, who is also a personal friend and also someone I was in a writing group with, so I critiqued this novella.
This is a novella about a magical, divinely backed caste system and the perils of xenophobia. It’s also about family and assumptions and trust. It also has some unflinching scenes of fighting, battlefields, injury, and disability.
It’s a lot in one novella, is what I’m saying.
Anari is the heir of House Crow, one of the eight Great Houses that runs his homeland and contributes possible heirs to the throne. He hasn’t ever seen himself as oba (ruler) material, and he had hoped that that would keep him out of the cutthroat competition. The world–as embodied by his siblings in the other Great Houses, and possibly by the intentions and desires of his House’s god–has other plans. Soon Anari’s entire worldview is upended, and he has to figure out a way for divine favor and Crow cleverness to provide real healing for his people–including the people he never thought of as his.
The resolution of this high fantasy adventure avoids some obvious pitfalls, holding interest deftly until the very end.
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