Read for the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge.
“Mirrinor – it was the Place of Islands, the Land of Still Waters, where every lake was strewn with islands, and every island was strewn with lakes. Indeed, it was hard to tell whether the region was mostly above water or below it. Tall snowmint trees grew profusely in Mirrinor, evergreens reflecting down deep into the sky-filled lakes, slender white pillars rising straight up, two hundred feet high, their streamers of peeling bark draping down to the ground. Festooned were the snowmints with long vertical blue-green leaves, volatile with peppermint. And leaning out from the rims of the meres, golden willows wept golden tears to drift among waterlilies and rushes. Frogs loved Mirrinor, and blink-fast dragonflies in resplendent livery, and small midges and gnats and shy green water-snakes and Culicidae and strange, strange things that lived underwater and sneaked around its margins.”
The Stormriders ride winged horses, bringing messages around the known lands of Erith, powered by the strange metal sildron, which flies. There are also Windships, built with sildron, that fly between the Houses of the Stormriders, bring cargo and news. In these houses, the servants see little of the wonders brought by sildron, and in one house, there is one servant lower than all the others – a youth found outside the fortress, terribly disfigured, near death, and with no memory of any time before the moment he was found. Though brought back to health in the Stormriders’ house, he is still viewed with suspicion because of his disfigured face, and so one day sneaks aboard a Windship to escape.
His escape starts an amazing adventure through the lands of Erith, illustrated beautifully like the opening quote. There are fae creatures, and amazing landscapes, and fascinating people galore as the foundling journeys toward the capital city of Caermalor, hoping to restore his face, and learn more about his past.
This is one of those books that I saw at a used book store, and couldn’t quite decide if I dared chance it or not. The third book of the trilogy was also there, so I decided it was worth a try, and I’m so glad I did. (I managed to find the second book of the trilogy within a month at a different store.) The author’s language is amazing – up there with Patricia McKillip. The world she’s created is endlessly fascinating – I’m really looking forward to the next books in the series. I’m really glad I took a chance on this one.
One note: there’s a twist in this book that’s totally spoiled if you read the back cover descriptions of the next two books. It’s nothing that’ll ruin enjoyment of the story – but fair warning if you hate spoilers.