In a word–brilliant. This novel deftly weaves 2 narratives of adopted albino women separated by 200 years but joined by their shared ostracism, small country and their involvement in trying to solve murderous political machinations during their respective eras. Each thread is its own political thriller touching on like locations and motivations across mountainous Rak.
Nothing about this premise should work. And yet it slays. Each thread reverberates through the other without compromising itself.
In the earlier steampunk-like era with magic-fueled airships crossing the mountains and lowlands, Pristina Aikaterine is the feared huntress daughter of Rajin, the country’s only wielder of magic and a national hero for his role in freeing Rak from its occupation. She has been burned by her rash defense of the magic essence gleaned from the death of magical creatures [think ivory from elephants, or whale oil from whales]. Almost no magical animals are to be found anymore. Pristina tries to convince others that someone’s trying to gain the knowledge of magic and start a political revolution.
200 years later, no one wields magic. No airships ply the skies. Pristina Aikaterine is known in legend as the traitor that aided the short-lived revolution. In the absence of hunters of magical creatures, dragons have become more common including the largest and grandest of the dragons–the Imperials. Dragons and humans have decent relations except in the rare cases that an Imperial goes insanely and murderously rogue. At that point, it’s known as a Turquoiseblood, and there is no return from the state.
After the murder of her partner Red, Anya goes Turquoiseblood, destroying a castle and scores of mountainous villages. Dying, she crashes in a blizzard in the remotest of villages where young outcast and illiterate Kiri propels her back to life and out of the rogue state. Anya, in return, takes Kiri on a broad tour of the kingdom educating her along the way in the ways of language, reading, history and courtly behavior. Their investigation of Red’s murder [and the collection of his essence] points the finger at someone trying to revive the forgotten practice of wielding magic . . .