From the opening pages, I was completely captured by this character-driven story of political intrigue in a richly imagined fantasy setting where there are very apparent divides in society.
When Mountain Fever strikes, 15-year-old Doniver finds himself quarantined on Rin, separated from his mother and young sisters in the Uplands who he is desperate to return to, following a tragedy at sea which sees him lose his father, a man who instilled a sense of honour in him.
The rock solid center of a man is his honour, Doniver. You lose your honour, you lose yourself.
Doniver is a deeply sympathetic character: a survivor, full of grit and determination, battling with feelings of guilt and shame as he fights to survive and maintain his sense of self-worth amidst the hardships of street life.
Trapped and alone on the perilous streets of Rin, he meets two other street kids, Jarka and Dilly who befriend him. I loved the honesty and depth of their developing friendships, forged out of the deprivation faced on the streets and the need for human connection. Even though their friendships were sorely tested, the sense of loyalty they had towards each other was incredibly moving.
Jarka introduces Doniver to a way to survive, a way to earn money to stave off the desperate hunger he experiences and a way to provide for his new-found friends. In order to earn his keep, he feels compelled to pretendto be a wind reader by telling fortunes through a windbox. This deception causes him a real moral dilemma as lying costs him a loss of honour, but it is necessitated by a basic human desire to survive.
Wind-reading also puts him in the path of Prince Beran of Rinland, a meeting which puts him in very real danger … and propels him inexorably into a viper’s nest of political intrigue and religious persecution which makes this a real page-turner of a book which kept me engrossed as I journeyed with Doniver through the murky workings of court politics …
This story explores the almost impossible choices which are necessitated by misfortune and harsh deprivation, but which also celebrates the power of friendship and loyalty, and the strength inherent in honour and bravery.
Thank you to the author, Dorothy A Winsor and Inspired Quill for sending me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.