This review will contain spoilers.
I enjoyed this book a lot. Myranda, the main character, is a pretty decent to follow. At first she’s only trying to survive. The northern countries where she lives have been in a perpetual war with the southern country. She wanders from place to place just trying to keep her stomach full enough. After she finds a campsite where the man had died, she happens upon his sword and it leaves a mark on her. Her only thoughts for the sword are to sell it so that she could have her basic needs met, but soon she’s being hunted down by her own country.
She meets a malthrope named Leo, one of the first people she’s been able to talk to freely since she was a child because she’s seen as a sympathizer with the enemy. Malthropes are seen as wicked creatures, so Leo, too, is unwelcomed by the world.
There can be a bit much of Myranda stumbling onto things, but it wasn’t enough to bother me. There were also a few occasions where Myranda had an odd opinion that I didn’t understand.
For example, maybe halfway through the book, she ends up in a secret village kept hidden from the rest of the world. Until then she’d been trudging through constant snow, barely surviving from city to city, didn’t trust the people around her, and everyone pretty much looked the same because most people wore the exact same color of cloak. She was barely surviving and had no friends.
When she arrives in the village it’s a safe haven from the outside world and it has all kind of color to it. But when Deacon tells her how difficult it is to get back out and seems content with staying there, she starts complaining how sad that is. It didn’t make sense to me. She only just got to safety from a world she had no particular reason to be fond of. People were trying to kill her all the time. Why would her immediate thoughts about the village be about how awful it must be to live there your whole life?
It felt almost like she had those thoughts just for the sake of being contrary. I thought it would have seemed more natural if she thought it was the greatest place in the world for awhile, and then changed her mind after being there for awhile and finding that most of the people were only concerned with learning. There was a lot she could have been disillusioned by.
The romance between Myranda and Deacon is close to non-existent. I actually like this. She doesn’t even meet him until about halfway through the book, and when she does there’s no obsession over how the other looks or anything. They start talking a lot and spending a lot of time together as Deacon explains things in the village to her and supports her.
I think Deacon made a surprisingly good romantic interest because he’s so lacking in the ways of romance. His entire life he’s lived in a village that’s all about learning and less about friends. He’s awkward and obsessive about his books, but he’s cordial and supportive of Myranda the entire time. The fact that Myranda was going to him for help and to talk to made sense. Their friendship didn’t feel forced at all, and it was easy to see how both could be drawn to the other – Deacon because it might be his first time having an actual friend in a long time, and Myranda because she’s been so alone in a hostile world.
Deacon doesn’t even seem to be aware of his shift in interests, which makes sense. He’s lived in the village without much in the way of friends, but the people there aren’t particularly hostile towards him, so becoming friends with Myranda would be a more subtle change in his life than in Myranda’s.
They have some differences in views. Deacon firmly believes what he’s been taught in the village, and thinks fate will happen on its own so they can just sit and wait for things to fix themselves. Myranda, on the other hand, thinks she needs to play a more active role in fate.
Overall, I think it was worth a read and I’d recommend it to someone who enjoys a nice fantasy novel. It took a little bit to get into, but I’m rating it based on the fact that I was invested by the end and would continue reading. I’d give it about a 9/10