Author: Philippa Ballantine
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: June 2012 (expected)
Summary: In a world that is in constant shifting, where mountains can change to plainsand then to lakes, Talyn is the Hunter for the Caisah, and a wreck of a once-proud person. She has lost her people, the Vaerli, and her soul working for the man who destroyed her people. All unknowing, she carries within her a Kindred, a chaos creature from the center of the earth that wants to help bring the Vaerli back to power. However, she has lost the ability to communicate with it.
She must also deal with the machinations of Kelanim, the mistress of Caisah, who out of fear will do anything to bring Talyn down.
Little does the Hunter know that salvation is looking for her, and it wears the face of gentleness and strength. Finn is a teller of tales who carries his own dreadful secret. He sets out to find answers to his path but ends up in the city of Perilous and Fair where he meets Talyn. He knows the danger and yet is drawn to her. Their fates are bound together.
Meanwhile, the Hunter’s lost brother Byre is searching for his own solution to the terrible curse placed on the Vaerli. He sets forth on a treacherous journey of his own, which will intersect in the most unlikely place with that of Talyn and Finn.
The ramifications of this encounter will be felt by all the people in Conhaero, from the lost Vaerli to the Caisah on his throne. (summary via risingshadow.net – thanks so much!)
☆: 4/5 stars – a great new story to add to the high/epic fantasy canon!
Review: Ballentine has created a totally new world (well, a totally new universe) with new races/species of people all trying to survive a wicked despot’s rule in “Hunter and Fox”, a wonderful new high fantasy story. While I admit it took me a little while to settle into the universe of this first installment in the “Shifted World” series, it’s still wonderfully rich and completely original with a very relatable human theme. I think a lot of high/epic fantasy fans are going to like this one – I know I did, and I can’t wait for the second book.
What I think I love most about this book (aside from the very thorough worldbuilding) is the fact that our protagonist, Talyn the Dark, is really an anti-heroine. She’s not a nice gal. Even she knows that, but she has a goal in mind, and she’ll be hellbent trying to get to that goal. Ballantine took a real risk in making her protagonist such an anti-hero/possibly unsympathetic character (though she does indeed turn out to be the most sympathetic character in the entire book), and I admire her for that.
And then there’s the worldbuilding – tight and brilliant with new races (no faeries here) along with humans after Conhaero was formed from the White Void. The only problem I had here was determining if Conhaero was an empire or a planet – this is not explicitly mentioned (or if it was, it went totally over my head) in this book, and I’m really hoping it gets discussed in future books. The White Void is an interesting concept, and it’s explored quite a bit in this book, especially in the beginning when it’s being interwoven between the backstory of Talyn and the backstory of Conhaero and its origins as a whole. While that partially contributed to the slow start of the book (kind of felt knocked over the head with all of that back story so quickly in the first part of the book), it was still so new and different that I lapped it right up. All of the races/species were so original – not just humans or faeries or vampires but completely new ones (with the exception of one – and I won’t spoil you there, just that Ballantine’s naming of them was very, very clever!) that had histories all their own.
This book is divided into three POVs that eventually melt into one, and that’s hard to do. I also think that’s where it got slowed down in places, but since this story kind of had to be told by all three parties in their own voices, it was very much needed. It’s never easy to do a multiple POV story, but I think Ballantine managed it quite well. The action never stops, even in the slower parts, and there is literally tension on every page.
And the ending? It’s a bit of a cliffhanger, but Ballantine rather nicely wrapped up all of the main arc conflicts by the end of this first book. I’m definitely a fan now, and you can be sure that I’ll be reading book two, whenever it comes out.
So if you’re looking for something completely new in the high/epic fantasy arena, try the first book in the “Shifted World” series, “Hunter and Fox”. It’s out later this month from Pyr/Prometheus Books in North America, and it’s really worth the read, so be sure to check it out once it hits shelves then!