The description online is probably a far better precis than I could write - " When Elabea, a girl of fourteen summers, hears a whisper calling her name, she asks, “Is this proof that the land of Claire wasn’t destroyed in the Dark War?” But her question ignites fear in her village. “The Oracles of the Cauldron forbid you to speak…the name! Death will come! We will be cursed!” Furthermore, when her best friend, Galadin, rallies beside her, the villagers divulge a dark secret: their fathers were the only survivors of the massacre at Min Brock. Forged as outcasts of their own homes and village, they fear the worst when the Cauldron sends warriors to destroy them. Desperate, they flee to Claire where Elabea is promised to become an all-powerful storyteller and Galadin a great warrior. But does Claire exist? And if it does, will it be an ally or a greater foe? Battling whispers, warriors and mysterious creatures, Elabea and Galadin must also contend with the darker questions about their fathers’ past and the… Tears of Min Brock."
The two young main protagonists have a touching relationship that develops gradually as they journey to Claire. The childhood friends are bound by common experiences, not least watching their fathers battle their demons, but become closer when driven away from all they know. I found them both likeable, and particularly enjoyed Galadin's awakening. There are various sub-plots, including their fathers' efforts to raise an army and a storyteller who is keen to keep his identity under wraps. However I had no problem in keeping the threads clear in my mind, as moving between them was well signposted.
This book has an epic feel, and it full of new lands, races and creatures. The history of the piece is clearly important and enough is revealed to support the developing plot, although I'm sure there are more revelation for future books. While I wouldn't go as far as to make a direct comparison with the Lord of the Rings it has that sort of feel about it. At times I found the volume of new places and characters a little overwhelming, and at others would have liked more description of characters like Elabea's rusk (a creature helping the pair through the trials they face) as I felt unable to visualise them properly. This would be my main critcism.
I've read a few books this year that form part of a series where I have been frustrated by the ending. However this book ends with a massive revelation that is both an end and a beginning. As such I was satisfied yet enticed by the prospect of the next book. I'd also like to continue reading the series to find out how the paths of various characters cross and whether good or evil will triumph (and indeed whether good really is good)
Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 4*