Since he was a boy, Bren has looked up to Darse as a father. When Darse receives word through a portal that he’s been called home to another world, Bren determines to follow his friend. Once through the portal, though, Bren discovers a power he’d never known. The land speaks to him, offers him knowledge beyond anything he could imagine, and Bren hungers for it, even if having it means betraying those he loves. A powerful queen sends Bren and Darse on a quest to find her daughter, and Bren must make a terrible choice. If he locates the missing girl and brings her home, he may lose his ability forever. But if he abandons the quest, his friend may die and he will lose his honor.
The first few chapters of this book jump around from one character’s point-of-view to another’s. Most of those initial characters only appear once or twice at the beginning and then never again as narrators through the rest of the book. Their experiences are important to the story, but beginning there made it a little confusing for me. (I’m easily confused, so really, it could just be me. Hard to say.) I wanted the story to begin with Bren. He was far and above my favorite character, and once his story began, I was a lot more interested in finding out what would happen next.
The relationship between Darse (Bren’s mentor and father figure) and Bren was really cool. I loved watching Darse figure out how to shift from father to mentor to friend and watching Bren figure out his own path apart from his affection for Darse.
This is a bit of an odd story. It definitely has an otherworldly feeling to it. That otherworldliness reminded me a little bit of The Waterborn by Greg Keyes. If you like stories about journeys into strange worlds with a coming-of-age feel, this would be a good book to check out.
Trigger warning for victims of rape or sexual abuse.
A creepy man holds a girl captive and heavily drugged. The narrative describes him fondling her breast. It alludes to further abuse, but doesn’t overtly describe those events. It’s clear that she and a boy who carries the memories of her abuse are traumatized by it.
An evil spirit walks the land. At an invitation, it will take control of a victim, but soon the person will die. The spirit will continue to try to use the body of the dead victim to achieve its ends. This gets a little bit icky, but there’s not a whole lot of description.
Characters in the story worship a trio called the Three. One character teaches two men about healing that comes from wading into a river or body of water and speaking one’s internal hurts/sins over it. The sins/hurts are washed away in the water.
Some people possess a gift to communicate with the land. Each land has its own personality and different motives. The gifted can communicate and draw immense power from the knowledge available through the connection with the land. The hunger for power can become a destructive force or a force for good.
There’s less actual violence and more creep-factor. A giant lays traps to collect travelers. He’s brutal to those he catches, causing one captured man a serious break in his femur.
Some people have discovered a way to remove memories from the minds of others. It’s a terrible process for the victim, which one character refers to as his mind being raped. The trauma is clear in the way the characters react, and those scenes bear a pretty big creep-element.
A putrid cream aids in the process of stealing memories from a victim.