Friday, February 3, 2017

#Saturday Review - Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron #YALit #Fantasy @ByEricaCameron @EntangledTeen

Series: The Ryogan Chronicles # 1
Format: E-Galley, 400 pages
Release Date: February 14th 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

In this diverse, gritty survival fantasy, a girl warrior turns against her island clan to find the brother they claim died, uncovering secrets. Perfect for fans of Graceling & Snow like Ashes. 
In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.
On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.
But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya's home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she's never seen.
To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.

Island of Exiles is the first installment in author Erica Cameron's The Ryogan Chronicles. In this opening act, Cameron introduces readers to a Khya Nyshin-Ten. Khya lives in the wall city called Sagen Sy Itagami on the island called Shiara. Khya is a trained warrior who can also use fykina magic to create wards. She is apparently the strongest fykina magic user among those who call Sagen home. 

Khya and her fellow warriors have been trained in a hostile environment. They face weather challenges, dangerous wild-life, enemies who test the strength of Khya, and her own people. Khya was raised to put her clan above herself, but after what happens to her brother Yorri, the pain & heartbreak will push Khya into an alliance with Tessen Nyshin-Ten, her dreaded adversary, and yonin Sanii who was set to become Yorri's bound mate. 

Khya's world is turned up on its head by her search for clues about Yorri, and the missing Miriseh (immortals). She will discover a dangerous undertow that sits right under the surface of Sagen waiting to explode. Khya must make a difficult choice into who she can actually trust, which puts her at odds with those she is supposed to be friends with. This means aligning herself with supposed enemies called Tsimo & Denhiho, while also trusting that she will find a way to save Yorri.

There is a romance in this story. It is really a sort of "I hate you so damn much, why won't you fall off the wall and die!" <Why would I do that when I see you, and care about what happens to you?> "You can't mean that! Especially since you stole everything from me!" <Yes, but I was really doing it because I respected you so much. You are, after-all, the best fighter in the city!> I think you get the idea. 

Island of Exiles is truly a strange journey, and I will not hesitate to say that I struggled a great deal with the first part of the story. Plus, the story contains a diverse cast of characters that uses terms that I had to flip to the back of the story to search for answers. Thankfully, the author makes a glossary of terms available so that if you are like me, and struggling to make sense of what's up, and what's down, you can right your ship and set a course past the turbulence. 

One of the more interesting aspects of this story is the use of Ey, & Eir, which is presumably Eben for one who is neither male nor female. Over the past few years, this has been an especially intriguing conversation to have with someone who doesn't sit by with being called just male, or female. I won't hesitate to give props to Cameron for her world building. This has got to be one of the most original, most interesting cast of characters that I've read in a very long time. It is steep with magical abilities, and destined to be one of those books that you have to pick up the next book in order to find out what happens next.

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