Something I kept asking myself as I read this book, “Is this a romance or a fantasy?” The reason why I asked myself this question was because, while I think that this series has pieces of both, I feel the pieces that it does have aren’t complete in either genre.
The characterizations were good. It was interesting to me that Hale showed Kyle (I think he’s our protagonist?) as two different people. John, our other main character, was essentially the same person, but we jumped back and forth and saw him from different times. I have to admit, the back and forth in time and the back and forth in POV drove me crazy for the first nine books, but after that I got used to it (it’s a series of ten books, lol).
The way Kyle’s sister talked was cool. She creeped the heck out of me, but was also endearing in a Tim Burton way.
As a fantasy, the magic system was interesting but possibly inconsistent. John was connected to the earth; and Kyle, to the space in between. I imagined Kyle using his abilities kind of like Nightcrawler, except Kyle travels through space…like Frodo and the one ring, only faster. Uh…if anyone has a different interpretation, let me know.
I loved John’s relationship with the earth, and how he felt safe being completely encased in rock, where most people would freak out. I didn’t understand the witches’ magic as much, or the boundaries of magic. John didn’t seem to have any boundaries related to any aspect of physics, but others did.
The world was a blend of middle ages and industrial revolution (depending on the city), and that was a bit confusing as far as world building goes. It was slightly steam punk? I wondered what this book would have lost if all the technology in all of the cities was the same. It didn’t seem to make a difference to the story, so I wasn’t sure what it gained by having the tech be so different in every city. Perhaps to further show us the devastating effects of the last Rifters on the world?
I’m still a little hazy about how Basawar and Earth are related to each other, but that’s okay. Maybe no one knows except that drunk priest. He was cool. I seriously want to have some drinks with him.
The buildup to John being the Rifter was such a big part of the plot of the POV shifts, but then I felt that the climax of that plot line fell a bit short.
As a romance, John essentially falls in love with two different people who both love him, but…they also happen to be the same person, only from different timelines. There isn’t any explicit sex in this novel, which made some people, including myself, highly disappointed. As far as how the romance in the book pulls on your heart strings? Have tissues ready. Even though Kyle and John have both had rough lives, they pull out some surprising tender moments out of the horror and chaos.
“You are the incarnation of Parfir. Your flesh is my earth. Your blood is my river. Your breath is my sky. Your body is my world. Only you know how much destruction this world can endure.” – Kyle to John.
I was breathless (and in need of tissues).