Here is the official synopsis from Goodreads: "An outlaw rises to become a dreaded warlord, the terror of kings. He takes the name Amar and seeks to join the Kez, the fiercest mercenary society in the tribal kingdoms of Gyhwen. His fearless ambition is inspired by Onja, a mysterious rys female whose magic has shaped Amar into a loyal friend. He zealously pursues her every command and hopes to join her in her mythic homeland of Jingten. But he knows little about the challenges confronting Onja. She and all rys are the reviled creations of the tabre of Nufal, and Onja longs to expel her hated masters. To liberate the rys, she knows that she will need more than Amar's help. Onja sees her best hope for an ally in Dacian, a prodigy among rys, but he is loyal to the ruling tabre order and dreams of winning equality for the rys nonviolently. He holds tenaciously to his ideals even as the tabre brutally subjugate him. Will he endure more dark abuses for the sake of peace or reach out to Onja? And what fate is Amar blindly embracing as he kills for her? Like a tree crashing in a storm, all civilizations will crack when hit by the force of the rys rising."
I was given an ebook copy in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour. I'll start with what I didn't like. This book is Book One of the Rys Rising trilogy (Savage Storm and New Religion are Books Two and Three, respectively) and this book feels like it. It reminds me very much of The Fellowship Of The Ring, in which it isn't a three-act story with plot lines that will continue. Like Fellowship, this book is ALL Act One, setting up the stage for what will come later. In that sense, the book seems long and slow to build but looking back on it, almost everything seems needed. Onja finding Amar, him joining the Kez, Dacian's training and growing rebellion, all of it is needed. I wish the book had been more structured to be a three-act story so I would have had a sense of completion but still wanting more. This is Book One and it feels like Book One.
The second issue I had with it was the constant head hopping. Whenever more than one main character is in the scene, we jump back and forth from one POV to the other. We hear Onja's thoughts and Amar's thoughts when they are in the forest. As Dacian undergoes training with his teacher Halor, we bounce from head to head. Falbe takes a third-person omniscient narrative voice in this book. Because the cast is so numerous and the storyline so complex, maybe this was needed. If each scene needed to be retold twice from each POV, it would have been a massive tome. But I feel a third-person limited POV could have worked. I eventually got use to the head hopping but it was jarring, especially in the beginning and almost, not quite but almost, feels like a cop-out from Falbe, who obviously knows this fantasy world so well.
Those points being said, the positives outweigh the negatives. Falbe has created a rich, layered Tolkien-like world without the complicated sentence structures. The humans, the tabre, the rys, all the different magic using sects, have their own history, culture, and worldview. Each one is distinct and well-thought out. Places and people have unique names and I'm almost surprised an invented language was not thrown in.
The characters are well-rounded; from Amar becoming a feared mercenary to Onja going from timid rys to a powerful creature whose intentions are slowly revealed. There is an air headed princess who I was happy to see was not air headed because she was stupid but because of her societal upbringing. Once she escapes, she proves herself capable. Many of the tropes of fantasy characters are present but didn't feel like stereotypes. Each person had their reasons for being in their circumstances.
The descriptions are vivid, especially of the armor and costumes and each different set of characters had their own style. The cities were thought out well and given a brief history without feeling like an information dump.
All in all, I recommend this book. It may take a bit of effort to push through it, but the world and characters are rich and complex, with intertwining destinies that will be interesting to see how they are played out.
Below is more information about the book, as well as purchase links and information to a promotional giveaway.
A remarkable trip into a stunning new world with Rys Rising, an epic fantasy series brought to you by Tracy Falbe
Rys Rising: Book I by Tracy Falbe
Onja can control what others see. The day will come when everyone sees things her way.
She and all rys are the reviled creations of the tabre of Nufal. Onja longs to expel her hated masters and sees her best hope for an ally in Dacian. He’s a prodigy among rys but is loyal to the ruling tabre order and dreams of winning equality for the rys nonviolently. He holds tenaciously to his ideals even as the tabre brutally subjugate him. Will he endure more dark abuses for the sake of peace or reach out to Onja?
This unique epic of complex heroes and villains engulfs readers from many angles. Packed with primitive energy, the intertwining stories of this fantasy world will indulge your cravings for intrigue, bravery, desire, and freedom.
Rys Rising: Book I is available worldwide at these retailers:
RY’S RISING BOOK 1-FREE ON AMAZON RIGHT NOW
About Tracy Falbe