Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.
But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.
The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I loved pretty much everything about it. I will say though if you don’t like questing / journeying books, this is not the book for you. And that the blurb is ever so mildly misleading, though not in a bad way. So with that out that way: review!
I liked Kamzin’s fire. She has a good mix of belief in her abilities, knowing her strengths, stubbornness, and self-doubt. In the village she’s stuck being someone she’s not and not quite at home, but once she’s on the quest it becomes a strength. And I loved that her familiar is a mangy fox lol! I feel that there should be more to that and I want to know all of it.
While I liked her relationship with Tem, to me that totally read as friends, so I was surprised when it turned out they were exes. I get that maybe that’s Kamzin’s feelings on it, but it felt unnecessary and unexplained. Their friendship was, however, excellent. Strong and willing to follow the other into madness. Again only mild niggle is Tem’s unresolved feelings and jealousy issues – as they’re not dealt with it felt a bit too much like ownership in places. Mild and infrequent though. His magic was awesome though, and I liked the early stuff between him and Kamzin’s about the shaman.
Let’s get on to River. I get that this is the first in the series, but there is SO MUCH left unsaid here. I need explanations! I loved him and the fire demon though. His character until the end (which I won’t go into for keeping it spoiler free) is pretty solid, and this is why I want more – I feel there is so much behind his decisions and actions throughout. The relationship between River and Kamzin doesn’t feel forced but does feel a little rushed.
It’s hard to read this and not compare it to A Shiver of Snow and Sky, which I also recently read. Both are quests and mountains and snow. In many ways ASOSAS is better written, it’s lyrical and mythical, which I loved. But there was something about the journey and the twists with this one too! Both excellent.