15 April 2013

Book review: The Whitefire Crossing

The Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer

Dev is an outrider, someone who rides alongside caravans to help with trail cutting and road mending and avalanche spotting. Outriders also climb mountains and do other mountaineering things. He's also a smuggler. He's hired to smuggle a person, Kiran, out of the city they live in, Ninavel, into a neighboring city.

Ninavel is ruled by a powerful wizard who has a very laissez-faire approach to magic. Mages of all sorts can practice their trade, including blood mages, whose power is fueled by blood sacrifice. Neighboring Alathia has strong wards all along their borders, and the use of magic, outside of small charms, is banned.

Of course the story Dev is told about Kiran, that he's on the run from bankers, is a lie. Kiran is an apprentice mage on the run from his master.

The novel alternates between Dev and Kiran's points of view. Dev's sections are in first person, and Kiran's are in third. This can be kind of unsettling, and narrator switches are noted by (Dev) or (Kiran) at the top. Their voices are very distinct from each other, with Dev being very brash and confident, while Kiran is nervous, almost twitchy (though from the way he thinks about his master, that's understandable), and shy. They both read as about 17-18 years old, though Dev is at least 20, based on some math from ages and time passage in the book. Also, Dev swears a lot, so if that offends you, keep it in mind.

Schafer is an avid mountaineer, and the descriptions of rock climbing and mountain climbing can get a little ... nerdy, perhaps, but it's clearly a subject she's passionate and knowledgeable about, and her enthusiasm infuses Dev's enthusiasm for climbing.

There were things about the book that got on my nerves: Dev was annoying and proud and suffered from "I won't tell other people my problems" syndrome. Kiran kept his secret hidden even after he really should have told Dev the damn truth.

But the story was engrossing enough that I wanted to find out what happened next, even as I wanted to kick sense into the protagonists. I got to the ending and was annoyed that there wasn't more. Part two is published, but the final installment in the trilogy isn't out yet. It may well be tied up in the Night Shade Books collapse. I hope it gets sorted out quickly.

If you like adventures and magic and intrigue and fucked-up family values, you might enjoy this book.

No comments: