SPFBO Status: Cut
Medium: ebook (306 pages in print)
Overview (No Spoilers):
I attended Michigan State for graduate school. You’d think that I would’ve experienced some amount of culture shock going from an undergrad with 2,000 students to one with 50,000, but I really didn’t since I spent most of my time oscillating between two buildings (one for the chemistry and one for the coffee). Bonus: the buildings were connected. Fortunately, a campus this size and the sprawling city around it are able to support many unique restaurants in the area. One such place is The Riv. My favorite memory of my time there would have to be beating my boss at Giant Jenga, although a close second would be enjoying Burgerama (their weekly burger and fries special). Their -rama series also includes Tacorama. And now I’m hungry… These are the kinds of things I was reminded of every time I came across the name of the realm in Child of Destiny, which happens to be The Rive. Needless to say, the only -rama to be found within these pages is drama.
Released in February 2019, Child of Destiny by M.K. Adams is the first book in The Rising Saga. This YA fantasy novel kicks off in Astreya, The Rive’s capital. As depicted on the eye-catching cover, the city is organized in three enclosed tiers, where the quality of life within these levels can be illustrated by a Champagne tower. As Champagne is poured out, the top glass (the king and his family) fills to the brim before trickling down to the layer beneath it (the rich). If you’re lucky, some of it reaches the bottom level as well (the masses), but don’t bank on it. Additionally, although magic exists in this world, the ability to wield it is rare and comes with an interesting cost to the user. To top it all off, in The Rive, you’ll also find the mistreatment of green-skinned individuals that echoes the racial prejudice in our own world. But if you stand very still, you just might detect the winds of change…
Enter Lyvanne, a fourteen-year-old street urchin who dreams of one day living beyond the walls of the city with those she loves. Every night she says a prayer, wanting to know what the future has in store for her. The subsequent response is more than she bargained for, pitting her against the king, of all people, and forcing her to run from everything and everyone she’s ever known. Along the way, Lyvanne finds refuge with a group of people who seek to make the world a better place and are willing to fight tooth and nail to make that vision a reality. The relationships that Lyvanne forms with those sheltering her are definitely a treat to behold. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a constant back and forth between them treating Lyvanne as the adolescent she is and expecting her to hold her own. In truth, the men and women at the forefront of this tale are complex, capable of taking care of themselves, yet fiercely protective of each other (to the extent of throwing their own safety out the window, one after another).
Although Lyvanne is the central character, the point of view does switch from time to time to other prominent characters; I especially enjoyed the intermission and epilogue for the unexpected perspectives they portray. Since the storyline focuses more on worldbuilding and character development (and building tension), Adams does a good job of making the few moments of action count. However, there are instances where the narrative feels lacking, as some discussions concerning the magical system, the deities of note, and personal and world histories are glossed over rather than explained. I am definitely a detail-oriented person, though. That may also be why I think this novel would benefit from another round of editing to root out errors, especially when punctuating dialogue. In any case, Child of Destiny is about a girl thrust to the forefront of a looming conflict and the decisions she must make regarding her role in it. If this sounds like your cup of tea, now’s the time to get caught up, since the sequel, Betrayal of Destiny, comes out in September!
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- I’m a little skeptical of Lyvanne escaping her time in the sewer unscathed, especially since she’d lost a lot of blood from the wound on her arm shortly before descending into the sewer system to hide. ‘Days came and went. Lyvanne began to catch rats when her stomach started to growl at her for sustenance.’ How did she not catch a rat-borne disease from their urine, scat, saliva, etc.? How did she not contract something from the sewage itself? It also seemed convenient that her wounded arm heals itself without care while she’s down there…
- According to Abella: ‘Warlocks are born once for every ten thousand people born in The Rive…’ Based on The Rive’s population, roughly how many warlocks should exist? Are there any warlocks born outside of the king’s empire, such as in the Kingdom of Midden or Tyberia?
- ‘Using magic takes a toll on the body, sometimes a great one.’ This concept that you’re left with a physical mark reminded me of a really good story by the user wercwercwerc, created from a writing prompt on reddit. Anyway, is the scar size based on the amount of power expended? The type of spell? Are there limits to the kinds of magic that Turiel can cast? What do you actually have to do to cast a spell? What topics did Turiel learn about in Rachel Goldheart’s personal journals? Is she known for anything in warlock circles?
- Since the king’s paranoia starts after a vision where he saw that ‘his bloodline would be deposed of power’, I’d like to know more about the royal family. How many members are there? Are they just as power-hungry as the king? What is the line of succession to the throne?
- Turiel acknowledges that it is ‘famously difficult to make people believe in the visions granted to others by the Angel of Destiny.’ What are some examples of visions that others have had? Did they come true? What actually took place in the king’s vision? Aside from Ronnoc, who else is at the table in Lyvanne’s vision? With what frequency do visions occur in The Rive? Is the Angel of Destiny real, or are those who have visions tapped into magic somehow?
- What is the story behind Akira discovering how to spy on others’ visions? How are the king’s warlocks able to identify who experiences each vision? How does the City Watch know to examine children when looking for Lyvanne if she appeared to be about 10 years older in her vision? How does the king know that Lyvanne is in Astreya after she has her vision? Do the warlocks have a radius limitation when it comes to viewing visions-in-progress? Or was the first warlock who sought Lyvanne not strong enough to pinpoint an exact location? Actually, how do warlocks even home in on a person they’ve never met?
- Lyvanne chose to let Melruin find her, because ‘if they know that I’m out in the wilds, she told herself, then they will stop the searches in Astreya.’ My concern, however, is that if Melruin realizes that she’s contacted him in an effort to save others, then the king can make things worse for folks in Astreya in an attempt to get her to come back, to play on her empathy for folks. She even tells Melruin: ‘The king is hurting people… That shall not continue in my name.’
- I had an issue with how long it took for the king’s soldiers to reach Lyvanne’s last known location. If it took a few days for Lyvanne, Turiel, and Jocelyn to reach The Spring by boat, why did it take weeks for the king’s soldiers to reach them? Isn’t Lyvanne a top priority, at least in the king’s eyes? Turiel notes that the soldiers ‘were likely on foot given how long it had taken for them to arrive after Lyvanne gave away their location.’ Why not sail? Also, why send Kyvna, a new recruit, to make sure the job gets done? Melruin must not think Lyvanne is much of a threat…
- Other odds and ends: How are our friends who stayed behind in Astreya? Where are the previous children who lived with Abella now? Will Jocelyn run into the crier who searched their house again? How will Terravin be used by the king? At the ruins, where Turiel and Lyvanne trained, what did the markings on the crumbling wall say? How many members does The Spring actually have?
- Final Thoughts: Lyvanne has come a long way from an invisible thief to the poster child of a revolution, but there is still a lot of ground to cover before her vision from the Angel of Destiny can be fully realized…
Cotton on: to begin to understand something; to catch on
Gambeson: a medieval garment of stuffed and quilted cloth or leather originally worn under the hauberk as a pad but later used alone as a defensive garment
On offer: being offered especially for sale
Palisade: a fence of stakes especially for defense
Pommel: the knob on the hilt of a sword or saber
Quay: a structure built parallel to the bank of a waterway for use as a landing place
Rathe: eager or prompt
Sleep rough: to spend the night in the open; be without a home or without shelter