Rhia Harlyn is a noblewoman in Shen. Being of noble blood she’s been sheltered from much of common life and the only person she’s been able to share that with, who understands her, is her brother, Etyan. But Etyan is missing and becomes a suspect in a local murder. Rhia wants to find him … she’s sure there’s a misunderstanding.
Rhia also happens to have an interest in scientific research – which isn’t very lady-like in Shen. She has to rebuff marriage proposals in order to stay focused on finding her brother and continuing her research.
Dej is a Skyland youth and must go through a bonding ceremony which will change her physically as well as emotionally. If things go wrong she will remain clanless and be the lowest of the low. And Sakhat is a priest in another Shadowland territory and is experimenting with the powers of life and death.
While world-building is an important aspect of any science fiction/fantasy novel, I still feel that it is characters who drive a story and the characters here just never spoke to me. Dej was probably the most interesting but her role in the book seemed the least clear to me.
Rhia was the most clear and clearly motivated, but I found her 1800’s-era attitudes confusing and frustrating. This goes beyond the ‘women don’t do science’ attitudes but includes ‘women probably deserve the rape’ attitude. That’s right. Rape.
So between not finding the characters very interesting and a culture that I can’t get behind, this just failed for me.
Looking for a good book? Hidden Sun by Jaine Fenn is a fantasy with some outdated morals and the characters never step up and push these outdated morals aside.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Jaine Fenn
series: Shadowlands #1
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 448 pages