Reviewed by Jackie Marchant
This is heart in your mouth, gripping stuff. From the first page, you know that its herione Zara faces impossible odds and, even worse, her deadly enemy is her own father, Benedict. But, rather that the ever popular feisty gung-ho heroine, Zara is a girl beset by fear rather than confidence. She doesn’t appreciated her own abilities, and is all the more likeable for it. She is in a terrible situation – her mother died because she didn’t agree with Benedict, her beloved Tribute child was ruthlessly killed by him and the only thing that stops him from killing her is the fact that he thinks he can mould her into the daughter he’d like.
But Zara has been spying for the Knowledge Seekers, who oppose her father. If he finds out, the consequences will be terrible, yet she has no choice, if she is to free the world from his tyranny. At the same time, she is his daughter, a mage like him and therefore hated by those she wants to help.
And then along comes one of her father’s enemies, a Maker from beyond the Wall – a young lad who holds an immediate attraction for her.
This is set in a complex world, beautifully drawn. The characters are real, their situation desperate. it is a world where mages give themselves a godlike superiority, where everyone else is considered ‘Kine’ and treated like cattle. The firstborn of all kine are snatched away to become slaves, or Tributes. It’s in this harsh world that Zara battles her own self-doubts, plus the doubts of those who despise her because she’s a mage. She also has to keep one step ahead of her forbidding father, because he absolutely must not find out that she is spying on him. He’s one of the nastiest villains I’ve come across.
All this leads to a great page-turner, beautifully written. And the good news is that there will be a sequel – Outcaste.
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