October 29, 2013
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The truth will test you...
For fans of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games: high fantasy and dystopia meet in this high-stakes tale of a civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down.
When Eva’s twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She’s a Maiden, slated for embroidery classes, curtseys, and soon a prestigious marriage befitting the daughter of an Aerie ruler. But Eva insists on honoring her brother by becoming a Testor. After all, she wouldn’t be the first Maiden to Test, just the first in 150 years.
Eva knows the Testing is no dance class. Gallant Testors train for their entire lives to search icy wastelands for Relics: artifacts of the corrupt civilization that existed before The Healing drowned the world. Out in the Boundary Lands, Eva must rely on every moment of the lightning-quick training she received from Lukas—her servant, a Boundary native, and her closest friend now that Eamon is gone.
But there are threats in The Testing beyond what Lukas could have prepared her for. And no one could have imagined the danger Eva unleashes when she discovers a Relic that shakes the Aerie to its core.
The beginning of Relic actually made me think more of Brave than of The Hunger Games or of Game of Thrones. Thy synopsis sounds much more like THG than the novel itself feels - there's more of a Brave or even The Testing air to it, if anything. As a while, it's a really creative and originally read, though.
The Testing in Relic is about survival -- in an icy, freezing, unforgiving land -- and finding relics of the time before the Healing. While Eva is wary of her fellow Testors, it's due to the rules forbidding them to help each other and them being unsure of a Maiden taking part in the Test, not because they're likely to physically harm her.The gender roles, as they are in Relic, worked well here and there wasn't need for any threat of physical altercations.
The Aerie, where Eva lives, is cold, snowy and frozen -- not like the frozen tundra, but not warm, either. Its climate and the border made me think of:
|from Game of Thrones|
Eva's belief structure is built around the Lex's rules and the society its set in place. They have a belief of the past (the not so not-now past) that readers will know is skewed, but they believe to be wholeheartedly correct. As a reader you wonder if Eva, who seems naive, when viewed by us but not when viewed as part of her world, is going to find out that perhaps, Apple wasn't a god . . . that not all of what she's learned is true.
And what will happen if she does.
Or, even, why she's been taught those things -- or who made the decision.
Relic is a really intriguing tale. You really are left to wonder just what the people of New North think those of the past were like. There's also quite a bit of tension present, while Eva's taking part in the Testing as you wonder what's going to happen to her with each step in her journey and how things will unfold. Then, what those things will mean for her and the story.
Relic is told in the first person which works very well. It's almost necessary to have that glimpse into Eva's head, to see that she's worrying how the other Testors are viewing her, if they see her as a threat or just don't like that a girl, a Maiden is taking part. What, actually, doesn't work is that it's supposed to be written as if Eva were writing in a journal. The first person narration would pull me into the story, I'd be following along with Eva and her actions . . . then get knocked out of it a bit when she mentioned 'writ(ing) in this journal.' Relic is written using verbs in the present not past tense so that it seems like everything is currently happening, not that it happened earlier and Eva's writing it down in her journal later.
While the journal thing may be necessary (I couldn't tell that it was; just that journal keeping was something others did, as well) or become necessary for the plot, the book just being written in first person would have been better.
We don't learn as much about the characters, other than Eva, as I would have liked. She is the focus of the story so there isn't even much of a chance to learn about then but I do love characters and finding out about them. Some of Eva's naivete seemed to come into play here, too, though and the ending held great promise. I'm really looking forward to what Book 2 holds - both for characters and plot.
electronic review copy received for review thanks to publisher and Edelweiss
About the author: Heather Terrell worked as a commercial litigator in New York City for over ten years, but she has always been obsessed with myth, lore, and the gap between history and the truth. This preoccupation has led to several loosely factual historical novels (The Chrysalis, The Map Thief, Brigid of Kildare) and the pure-lore Fallen Angel series. Relic is the first installment of The Books of Eva series. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family. Visit her at www.heatherterrell.com.
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