Author: C Greenwood, 2012
And that is how Ilan becomes a mascot of sorts, for a band of thieves, and has a thoroughly unconventional upbringing for a young lady. She might be well versed in the ways of the forest, but she lacks social graces until she intercedes to save the life of a young priest – and an unlikely friendship comes into being.
There really isn’t much to book one of this series other than offering readers an origin story in which we are introduced to the protagonist, and get to share her back story. This might bother some, but I enjoy this sort of detail. Greenwood’s writing is a little clunky at times, and I often found myself wishing the author would go deeper with the layering. Events, like the time Ilan finds herself a McGuffin, she acts but doesn’t question her motivations, which I felt moved a bit quickly for what was in fact a momentous event. Also the world building remains frustratingly light. I wanted to smell the leaf mould, hear which birds were singing, and see how the sunlight dapples the forest floor. This sort of detail, in my mind, is intrinsic to fantasy, and I wanted more of it.
Yes, Ilan can be a bit of a brat, but that’s understandable considering her circumstances, and I really took a shine to her despite her mood swings. She’s a teen, and acts it.
On the whole, this was a fun, engaging story that shows plenty of promise. If you’re looking for a light fantasy adventure with a strong, morally ambiguous female protagonist, then this might be your thing. Though I’m not experiencing a burning rush to go out and immediately buy the next novel, my interest is sufficiently piqued that if book 2 were to land on my desk, I would go on with the story. This one's a free read, so give it a shot.