A workmanlike fantasy featuring a lovable–and welcome–female protagonist.
Rappaport’s debut follows Halia, a young girl from a broken family whose difficult life has turned her into an exemplary thief. Halia lives in a Middle Earthâ€“like world inhabited not only by humans, but by a host of other races, including the Arboreals–tree creatures seemingly intent on expanding their already huge wilderness domain–and the Fracodians, a lesser race of barbarian marauders who frequently harass their human neighbors. The heroine’s adventure begins when, lost in an Arboreal forest, she stumbles upon a crumbling fortress that houses a mysterious but well-guarded treasure: a perfectly crafted crystal sphere that seems to possess magical powers. She soon discovers that the sphere is not the only one of its kind, and that there are four other similar orbs that, when brought together, provide the key to the discovery of a vast treasure. During her quest, she meets up with Xarun–a bear-like brute of a man with the skills of a seasoned warrior–and Ahriman–a powerful but shadowy magician–both of whom possess spheres like hers and both of whom are seeking the key to their mystery. The author is a competent writer with an interesting, if not wholly original, tale to tell, but the compelling narrative is fractured by unconvincing dialogue rife with Yoda-like sentences and inverted lines: â€œKnow you this–I shall succeed in converting this water into Dark Whey”; â€œOnce again, shattered are my dreams.”
Unexceptional, but worth saving for a rainy day.