The Waterborn (Children of the Changeling, Book One)

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Waterborn (Children of the Changeling, Book One)
Greg Keyes, 1996, New ebook edition 2015

New ebook release! I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for review.

Premise: Perkar lives in a land full of gods: the little gods of things, the gods of places, the bigger gods of the old places that bargained with his ancestors. Hezhi lives in a city with one god. The River controls the city, controls the priesthood, controls the rules that govern Hezhi’s royal blood. They each set forth to change their fate, and so may change the fate of many more.

I really liked this. It’s been a decent while since I’ve read such a strong fantasy novel. It’s long without dragging, although if it were written today, it would probably be broken up into two books.

Both Perkar and Hezhi’s societies are explored carefully, and the differences are stark. I want this book to be a movie or a miniseries. Casting it would make some people’s heads explode.

You see, it features a young man who loves a stream-goddess and does many foolish things for that love, and then has to face the consequences. It features a girl who seeks knowledge and truth above all else after her cousin disappears. He lives in a ‘barbarian’ land where honor and combat is prized, and young men are expected to have a household and a herd. She lives in a huge palace in a vast city where class mobility is miniscule and the power of the royal family is above all. The herdsmen of the hills are explicitly light-skinned, while the city people are dark.

Hezhi is probably the most powerful character, and she is a young girl of color. Awesome.

Perkar and Hezhi are tied together by fate, by the gods who take an interest in their lives, and by their own struggles to understand and survive what destiny has in store. They are both interesting, flawed characters who come into kinds of power, and have to figure out how to handle that.

It’s not perfect, and the plot does meander occasionally, but the world is really interesting and the characters compelling. That’s most of what I’m looking for in a novel, and I’ll probably read the sequel.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

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