Lindsay Buroker, 2011

Premise: Tikaya is a linguist, but during the war, she became a master cryptographer, and was instrumental in protecting the allies of her island home from invading navies. After the war, the defeated Turgonians want revenge on the one they call the cryptomancer, but first they kidnap her to help them decipher some mysterious runes. Along with another prisoner with a mysterious past, Tikaya needs to help her captors enough to keep herself alive, but if the secrets lead to putting something dangerous in Turgonian hands, she'll have to try to stop them.

I enjoyed reading this book, although it was fundamentally sort of fluffy. The romance is fine, the characters are sweet, the action is well done. It just didn't make a huge impression on me. It doesn't linger in the mind.

Side Note: I hate the cover. It doesn't matter much as an ebook, but I really dislike it. I think it's misleading and that the art is just unappealing.

Again, I liked Tikaya, she's super-smart with a bit of quirky humor, although a race of pale blond intellectuals living on a tropical island nation strains my credulity more than a little. Not a big problem for me, just a little reaction of “really?”

It was fun to read, it really was, but I'd have been more interested if the plot wasn't so pat. The good people are good. The nasty people are nasty. The good country is good. The nasty country is nasty. The good honorable people who come from this nasty country don't seem to be a contradiction. There is a clear answer to the moral question of what to do about the spoiler: *alien, probably* technology they find at the end of the arctic tunnels, and the good people agree about what the answer is.

I'm exaggerating slightly, the main couple had enough color to be entertaining and there was one supporting character (whom I think the sequel focuses on) with a little more depth, but most minor characters with more than one shade got disposed of once the plot was finished with them.

The balance between magic and technology is interesting, although since Tikaya spends most of the book with a group of low-magic people, I didn't get a good sense of how it worked.

I did really like the sequence when they were trying to decode and disarm the weird box that was making people crazy and violent. Even though I kept visualizing the scene as 30 Days of Night.

Overall a fun romp, a well-crafted fantasy action-romance, but nothing exceptional.

3 Stars – A Good Book


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