The lost land of Acre has passed into myth. Tales of Wielders with access to the magic gifted to them by the sun and moon, the invading Sartyan Empire and the one who wields the gifts of the stars have become just that: tales. So when two strangers spirit Kyndra away from her family and the only village she has ever known to the hidden citadel of Naris, she is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. As she learns more about her own roots, however, she finds herself on the brink of an ancient war.
I once read a quote somewhere in the lost archives of the internet that said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “War is rarely as black and white as Good vs Evil, but even when it is, innocent men must die.” It is easier to know who to root for when the heroes are Undeniably Good Guys™, but it is the strength of a great writer, who can make you root you for those with more grey areas than you can shake a stick at.
Hounsom takes risks with her characters that go far beyond a few simple flaws that make up a balanced human. In The Worldmaker Trilogy we watch our heroes make questionable choices or turn their backs on their humanity. We find ourselves sympathising with characters who’ve done evil things, who continue to do evil things, and yet we love them any way. And we continue to root for them, perhaps because we’ve fallen for their propaganda, their side of the story; or perhaps it’s because they are so complete, we know them inside and out. There are times when reading the book that I thought to myself, how must our heroes look to the other side? The tactics they use, the choices they make or are forced to make, I have to wonder how I would feel about them if I were following their story on the news, rather than through their own eyes. It only serves to make the story more interesting.
Fantasy isn’t just about thinking up new worlds and new creatures; it isn’t just about an active imagination. Fantasy, at least good fantasy, is about encouraging the reader to open up their mind so completely to new worlds and a new nature that, once their guard is down, they will be open to learning new things about their own world. Hounsom’s world is one of a unique magic, of a rich history and of its own myths and legends. It may never be as heavily explored as Middle Earth or the Wizarding World, but it is a world that the can reader can lose themselves in nonetheless.
I was hooked from the first page and I would recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, or just anyone who loves a good story. It was one of those books where I need a bit of a break before diving into my next one because I’m not quite ready to let go of that world.
The series was likely my last read of 2017 and it was great to end the year on a high.