Ahoy there me mateys! This book was part of the Maine book haul. I had never heard of the author or this book. Apparently this author is Australian. Hooray for non-US authors! The lovely cover is what drew me in:
I mean seriously – a kick-ass woman holding a giant sword and riding on a pearlescent sea creature for only 25¢. I had to have it. And I really really liked it. Interestingly, it was Shortlisted for the Best Fantasy Novel in 2003 at the Aurealis Awards for Fantasy and Science Fiction.
This book is the first of a trilogy called the Isles of Glory. The main character is a woman named Blaze Halfbreed who is attempting to find a slave woman which will get her closer to her goal of citizenship. I liked this lady. From an orphan on the streets with an unusual upbringing to a competent adult who is independent and relies only on herself, Blaze is bad-ass. I mean, yes she likes to take the easy way out for survival but when push comes to shove she is more than willing to fight back.
Besides the magic in this world which was fun, I also enjoyed watching Blaze makes friends and learn to trust other people. There are non-humans in the world like ghemphs (awesome!), Fen lurgers, and of course the sea-ponies! (Side note: I have a thing for ponies and the term sea-ponies reminds me of a certain childhood movie whose song is now stuck in me head). I loved the island setting and all the references to the sea. The side characters of Tor and Flame and Ruarth were wonderful.
There were a couple of downsides of this novel like the use of rape in the plot (not graphic at all but present), some periods of action happening off the page while the main character waited, and some odd/slow plot points that didn’t float me boat. Oh, and though the bad guy has a reason to be bad, he seemed very two-dimensional. But overall I liked the book so much that I just ordered the second book to read. So if ye can find a copy and want a fantasy that is fluffy but fun . . . check this one out.
The author’s website has this to say about the novel:
Imagine what it’s like to be born citizenless in a world where citizenship is everything.
Imagine what it’s like to be abandoned by the parents you can’t remember before you are two years old, in a city that despises you for being a halfbreed.
Imagine what it is like to be able to see magic when others can’t.
Imagine what it’s like to live in the Glory Isles at a time when your archipelago is about to be discovered by another civilization from half a world away. Changes are in the wind
This is the world of The Aware.
‘I almost regretted having Awareness. Without it, I wouldn’t have noticed a thing; I would have been as oblivious to the danger as everyone else.’ Blaze Halfbreed doesn’t like Gorthan Spit, but she’s being paid to find an enslaved Cirkasian woman needed by the Keepers to further their political ambitions. When she sees dunmagic running over the floor in the taproom of The Drunken Plaice, she knows she is in trouble. Her search for the elusive slave takes her deep into the horrors of the Spit, where she discovers a threat to all the Isles of Glory and a more immediate threat to her own life. And perhaps the key to it all could lie somewhere in wild tales of vanished islands.
The Aware has an evocative cover by Australian illustrator Greg Bridges that conjures up a magical island world under scrutiny by those who have come from afar to explore the Isles, and a series of maps have been drawn by West Australian artist, Perdy Phillips.
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