From Amazon.com "When the River has Run" is a fantasy tale without noble causes, kings and quests, and the fate of this fantasy world does not hinge on anyone's heroics. No prophesies foretell their fates, they are not secret heirs to powerful thrones, and they are not guaranteed a glorious victory, against all odds, in the finale. Hadralla is one such hapless character. He tends rabbits on the safe and sheltered islands. Until his mother tires of him, and ships him off to the mainland, to find real work. His uncle lives there, and together they scour the countryside for scrap metal. Their travels bring Hadralla riches, but also notoriety, and the Magistrates seek him out. They need a new breed of soldier for the coming war. Disease and roving bands of lepers have overrun the outer lands, and a great plague sweeps closer to the capital. After being recruited into an elite unit, Hadralla joins a bloody and misguided campaign to halt the spread of leprosy."
This sounded like an unconventional fantasy tale and it certainly delivered on that promise. The element of adventure and battle is as large a part as the fantasy side of things. In fact it could almost verge into sci-fi territory being based on the idea of a group of soldiers capable of tackling an enemy because of their immunity to a fatal disease. I was struck in particular by the ending which had a completely different feel to it than I was expecting.
Hadralla starts off as a naive Islander who is initially enthralled by his new life. He may seem like a simple rabbit herder but shows his capabilities as he embraces his new role as a soldier. For me though this was a very plot driven tale and I didn't connect strongly with any of the characters.
This was a bit of a break from other books in the genre for me, and was definitely more gory than many, what with it's army of disintegrating lepers. An interesting and different read.
Format: E-book, review copy
My Rating: 3*