I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.Cover will take you to Goodreads.
Author: Greg Keyes
Series: Children of the Changeling #1
Publisher: Open Roads Media
Published: Original in 1996, republished April 28, 2015
Source: eARC through Netgalley
The River flowed through all the land, deep and unstoppable, a god in his own right. His head was in the mountains; his arms embraced the outlands; his body lay at the core of all the civilized realms; and his legs stretched on to the distant sea. Dark and sluggish, he rolled unchallenged, dreaming his own invincible might and glory into stark reality.
Everywhere he touched, the River God held dominion. And in Nhol, the fabled city at the heart of the world, an emperor ruled as the living aspect of the god, presiding over the splendors and intrigues of a prosperous land and a glittering court.
Hezhi was an imperial princess; her blood carried the seeds of the River’s power. When her favorite cousin disappeared, Hezhi searched throughout the sumptuous palace with its ghosts and priests, giants and courtiers, and frightening creatures of wizardry. And the magic within her began to grow; soon it must attract dangerous attention. Hezhi’s anxious quest ripened into a desperate fight for her own life–a battle she could not hope to win alone.
Small wonder that the princess wished for a hero.
And far away, a hero’s journey began…
Not sure what I expected from this fantasy book but it wasn’t a high fantasy story that is filled with Gods and Goddesses and a whole bunch of world building. Keyes is an amazing storywriter. I was blown away by the descriptions and the emotions throughout this book.
The story bounces back and forth between Hezhi a 12 year old princess living in isolation in a castle and a 17 year old barbarian named Perkar who fell in love with a stream Goddess. There are some other POVs between the chapters but they are short and adds to the story because it leaves you in suspense. Writing this review is sorta hard just because there is so much going on and I would HATE to give it all away but I will try.
Hezhi is a VERY young princess when her favorite cousin is taken away never to be seen again. This starts her obsession with finding out what happened to him. She knows it has to do with her Royal Blood but she is not sure what. Her bloodline can be traced back to the River himself who is a God but a slumbering one. She starts working in the library to find out more but when summoned to court she is required to drink from the River and there she wishes for a hero to save her.
That is where Perkar comes in. Perkar is a barbarian from far away who lives by codes and honor. He honors all the Gods around him and falls in love with the stream Goddess near his family home. He promises her that he will free her from the River. His quest starts out as a journey to the Forest Lord to ask for more land for his people but then turns deadly. His bad decisions changes the course of everything and he is pushed toward Hezhi’s wish of a hero to come save her.
I was surprised at how young Hezhi was being portrayed but she acted more like a teenager than a young girl but things happened to make her grow up faster. She is strong-willed and will do whatever it takes to learn more and to escape her fate. I really liked and connected with her even though she was so young while Perkar I just wanted to bash his head into a rock. He was being stupid and proud and not thinking straight. He made such bad decisions but again I guess without making those bad decisions he wouldn’t have gotten to where he needs to go. It was frustrating at times.
The world building was awesome and the history of the Gods and Goddesses were just enthralling. Everything was very descriptive although it does take a while for the story to really start it was a good story. I couldn’t put it down.