Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Daughter of Exile, by Isabel Glass

Daughter of Exile by Isabel Glass was a random book that caught my eye while browsing in the library. It was in the fantasy section, and that day I had picked up a huge pile of books and brought them home-- to decide later which I would read. I'm so glad I still go to the library; no matter how full my TBR list is, or how many books I have to review. You really never know what you're going to find! I read the back of the book, (I'm going to include it below "EXCERPT")-- and the following days I found myself wondering what happened to the "daughter of exile" & the mysterious man lighting the fire..
So much so that I thought; if the blurb has me this fascinated, the book must be worth reading! Boy, was I right. ^_^ 

BLURBLady Angarred Hashan was raised in exile far from Pergodi, the capital city. Angarred never knew what had caused her father's exile; she only knew that at the age of four, she was brought to Hashan House, an isolated and crumbling manor, and raised by servants. Her mother, she was told, had died. Angarred spent hours in her mother's rooms, handling the fine dresses of Emindal cloth---when she wasn't running wild through the forests and fields. 
Her father was distant and obsessed with regaining his place at court. The only visitors they ever saw were secretive men and women who brought news of the events at court---news of wars and alliances, of the queen's failure to conceive an heir, of the Princess Roharren's madness and Prince Norue's growing power, and of the disappearance of the magicians. The visitors came and went, plotting revenge for mysterious slights, eating and drinking their way through the storerooms while Hashan House fell down around them. 

But one day, while hunting in the forest, Lord Hashan was murdered. And Angarred, in her outrage, determined to go to the capital and seek justice from the king---for, surely, the murderer of a lord, even an exiled lord, should be punished! But the naïve young woman finds a swirling world of palace intrigue, a dying queen, and an ensorcelled king. With the help of Mathewar, a handsome but very troubled, magician, she journeys from the crowded streets of Pergodi to the Enchanted Forest, from the deadly land of the Others to the arches of the Giant's Bridge, as she begins to unravel the secrets of the kingdom and her own history.

Angarred saw and turned away, her heart filled with fury and helplessness and pity. She left the men and women to their talk and paced angrily through the corridors of the manor house. 

A while later, in a room far from the conspirators, she came upon another of the men from Pergodi. He had his back to her; she could see only that he was a little taller than she and broad-shouldered, with long wheat colored hair bound in a leather tie.

"Who are you?" she asked. 

He turned quickly. He had been trying to light a fire, she realized. "You'll never get that fireplace working," she said. "There's a nest of swallows in the chimney. "

He laughed. "We are far from court, I see," he said. He brushed at his hair, though none of it had come loose from the tie. He had wide-set blue-gray eyes. He bowed to her; there was something mocking in it. "My name is Mathewar," he said. "And I have the pleasure of meeting--?"

"Angarred," she said curtly, seeing no reason to return his bow.

"My lady Angarred," he said, "is there somewhere I can light a fire." 

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star :star 

This book was a strong fantasy novel, with danger and suspense--and bits of romance weaved through. We follow Angarred, the "daughter of exile" from her home where she has lived in exile her entire life, with her father. She lives far from the city of her birth--Pergodi. And we travel with her on her journey through the country, to Pergodi, and in between. It's not so much where she goes-- as what she learns while she travels. Whether it's Pergodi or the royal court-things and people are not what they seem. angarred wants to get to the bottom of things-- after all her life is in danger! 
I don't want to reveal too much because it could spoil it for you. I really loved this book. I can't say it enough. The love Angarred felt for Mathewar was slow to grow and even slower to be realized. There was sadness and political turmoil, but the mystery that surrounded the lands kept unfolding, and even in my wildest guesses I didn't know which turns it would take. 
The strength and likability of the characters was so significant that I fell in love with the world Isabel Glass created. There is a second novel, (interesting to see 2 novels instead of the now-typical trilogy or series), which I plan on reading. I already got it from the library. :angel 
If you like fantasy, but want a world that is different from all those generic Narnias/LOTR/wonderland-- pick up this book. It's flavor didn't remind me of anything I've read before. And that is something in itself. 
I thought the writing was, well, perfect. How can that be? The writing was perfect because I forgot I was reading. I actually felt I was living the story with Angarred. I'd pick up the book and forget there even was a narrator to this story, a woman who wrote this book. I would think, "what's going on with Mathewar?" I kept thinking of the book, fighting with myself to slow down so it wouldn't end. This has not happened in a very long time for me. The amount of joy I get from reading a book that so well can push the story out on the forefront, and leaves all the stylistic/word-choices in the background--enough so that it fits how it should: the story being most important. So yeah, the writing was seamless. :P
I remember being a little skeptical as to how all these elements could fit in I've read a lot of fantasy that has "everything" simply to say they have "everything"-- you know? This book incorporated magicians, magic stones, giants, and human-animal transformations very flawlessly. All these things felt necessary to the story. They all had great purpose, great meaning. And the meaning didn't have to be told to the reader (the giants are significant because...) no-- instead I knew why things were important. 
The author quickly fills the reader in on the world, without the typical introduction chapters that explain how everything works. There wasn't any of that, if there was more in the beginning it felt natural. I sometimes feel in fantasy that the authors rush to fill the reader in so the story can begin. In this case, the story began immediately but the reader picked things up as the story moved forward. It was explained in a way I could understand, and also didn't take away or pause the storytelling to do so. 
For example, there was something called "Sattery;" which turned out to be the equivalent of opium or heroin in a liquid. Well we figure this out quickly, but there is ever a direct mention "this is an opiate" or whatever. The effects were described, and slowly more information about it was revealed-- but I always felt "in the loop" ;) 
This book was amazing. I can't wait to read the sequel. But I'm sad that the story will end. I feel like I'm best friends with Angarred, and in love with Mathewar :L *swoon* I can't wait to join them in the rest of their journey. 

Tell me-- do you like fantasy books? Would you read Daughter of Exile? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you! 

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(aka Dee) has loved reading for as long as she can remember. She loves many things: fantasy novels, young adult fiction, her cat, painting, and horror films from the 70s. Diamond is a grad student at UCLA. She's pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science.