Publisher Description: OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
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WildlyRead Thoughts: I really did enjoy the story – I thought it was well-written, I liked the pacing of it, and I also thought it did a great job of getting right up to the point of brutal in terms of emotion and violence, without going overboard. I think this makes a great addition to the canon of fantasy books featuring strong White women like the His Fair Assassins series by R.L. LaFevers, the Leigh Bardugo Wonder Woman: Warbringer, and the like.
All of that said, I felt like this story didn’t really add anything new to this genre. I found the plot entirely predictable. There was one surprising point where a character made a decision I was surprised they made, and other than that, the most surprising part was that the violence did go as far as it did. There were a couple of points of violence that I thought went really well into the story, and I was glad the author didn’t back away from that.
I’m really torn because especially in the face of the #ourvoices movement and raising up marginalized stories, do we really need another heavily promoted tale about a blonde White girl killing other blond White people because their deity told them to? Not that entertaining, well-written stories don’t have merit in their own right, but as I was reading it, I realized I was tired of stories where two sides who have a ton in common want to fight and kill each other in the name of an omnipotent being, especially if I wasn’t learning anything new about a culture or time or place. I understand it’s a bit of a catch-22 – I enjoyed the quick pacing that didn’t get bogged down in huge paragraphs of exposition, but at the same time, I didn’t feel like I wasn’t actually reading Viking lore or Scandinavian history, and after reading it, I could tell you nothing about ancient traditions.
On the other hand, I’m really looking forward to the reputed companion novel in 2019, and will happily recommend this to people who are looking for something like it.