Han slips in and out of roles. At times he's the streetlord of the Raggers, sometimes he's just the older brother trying to find food for his family by scraping together enough money through trading and selling, and sometimes he feels like he's a part of the Clans with their green magic and easy company. But right now, he is just a magnet for trouble. When he picks up an amulet, Han doesn't realize he is about to be roped into trouble spanning 1000 years. Magic, corrupt guards, deception, and a pair of silver cuffs are all woven together to make a story.
Raisa is the princess of Fellsmarch, but sometimes it feels like she's more of a prisoner than anyone else in the kingdom. Her 16th birthday is approaching and that means suitors. But also danger. Slowly her eyes are opened to the strife and pain in the city.
These two seem to find themselves at the catalyst of all the war that is about to engulf this world.
At the start of the book, I thought I would really end up loving this book. It had a feel of intense buildup, good-natured trickery, wicked wit that smirks more than chuckles, and all the right components for a great rollicking adventure. I loved Han and his backstory - and how we were dumped in media res of his story. I loved the idea of the Clans versus the city intrigue. Raisa was interesting too with enough backbone and intelligence to not be a typical stupid girl in most novels.
And then the book started collapsing for me. Suddenly Raisa was kissing every single attractive boy that crossed her path; being stubborn and getting her way even though she couldn't back up her talk; saying she wanted to find out more about the kingdom and find allies... and then still being a sheltered girl that thinks about dresses more than politics - and really. What allies. The only person she talks to is a potential love interest. She's on the verge of being a stupid girl,
That's the problem with this book. It attempts to be an epic fantasy story with interweaving plot lines and a host of many major characters - but the world is surprisingly empty of other important people. Do only the Bayars have influence in court? What about other nobles or Houses? This is why I am so frustrated by the court scenes (besides Raisa being silly very often. Yes, go continue to kiss a boy that tried to seduce you with magic. Ridiculous.) The world simply needs more people to have some sort of influence.
The two story lines have to seriously converge yet - but I believe that will happen next book with the foreshadowed locations.
I usually comment on the plot and the world and the magic system - but for some odd reason, all of these things just feel pretty standard. There isn't anything wrong with these components, but none of them are particularly different or interesting. Princess tries to gain freedom and knowledge. Boy in the streets realizes he's more than he seems, and has to escape things chasing after him. Located in a city and the court with much intrigue and political dancing. The Clans are the perfect balance to wizardry magic with their typical green and world-based magic. What can I say? It's fairly standard.
So what that leaves us with is the characters. And so far... /shrug.
Three stars. A typical fantasy novel that is done with enough finesse that you want to keep reading, with a few character and plot flaws. But hardly innovative in the world of fantasy.
Recommended for those who like fantasy novels - if you were a fan of Brandon Sanderson's work (Mistborn and the like), you'll probably like this too.
Just read through book 2 and I couldn't get through it because of stagnant characters and unbelievable plot lines. I'd suggest you don't start this series. It only goes downhill.