SPFBO Status: Finalist
Overview (No Spoilers):
Tethered Spirits centers around a few different characters who are utterly consumed by their overlapping missions, blinding them to all reason except for the righteousness of their own causes. Amar has a curious case of immortality where he awakens every morning after dying, but with the unfortunate side effect of complete amnesia. With his friends by his side and a personal journal Amar is able to recall his quest to find out more about his condition. Tracking him is the equally determined Aleida and her spirit, Valkra, whose whole purpose is to save her little brother from a terrible disease. Her quest drives her every waking moment and justifies her many, many terrible actions. Tethered Spirits is filled with side characters who have their own dominating goals, such as Saya completing her haseph to finally become a full member of her tribe and poor Kesari with her painful wish to break her spirit bond with Lucian. With so many overlapping and conflicting goals, whose priorities will surface at the top and what sacrifices will have to be made along the way?
Tethered Spirits maintains a familiar pattern of chase, battle, escape, and repeat, with several variations of near misses intermixed. Hernandez employs some timeline warping, similar to a horror movie, where the victim sprints away at full speed with the enemy assuming a slow leisurely chase, only to have the bad guy be right behind in the end. In this case, Amar and his team caught every break, taking the short cut through the desert and traveling by ship, only to still end up just a day ahead of Aleida and Valkra who took a route that should have added weeks, before being delayed by an overland route during the last stretch.
I enjoyed Saya as a bad ass warrior and found myself particularly curious about her people’s culture, especially the haseph. I would have loved to learn about what other warriors brought back as successful missions, or even better, what were some of the failed missions. By the end of Tethered Spirits, I could hardly handle her blindness regarding the horror of Amar’s plight and the fact that she wanted to potentially inflict that same curse on her own people, all for winning a war. There were so many holes in her argument that I couldn’t convince myself to buy in from a reader’s perspective.
Overall, Tethered Spirits builds toward one massive conflict, while being chock full of revelations throughout this story, though whose quest succeeds may prove questionable once the sacrifices are weighed.
Additional Insights (Spoilers Abound):
- The dead Tarja must have had their own bond with a spirit. Does that spirit die when the host dies or could they bond with someone else if they are in the same vicinity? So could Lucian or Valkyra’s spirits have bonded someone else? Or were they Tarja without having bonded a Spirit?
- Poor, poor Jameson. His fate was awful and not fair at all. I hate seeing scholar types fated such in books.
- I loved that we were able to glimpse Amar’s long and bloody life. What a nightmare he must have been unknowingly trapped in? Being in the military, it seems like over the years someone would have recognized him being back from the dead.
- Why did Valkyra not backtrack and kill everyone?
- I didn’t see the big twist coming at the end. Talk about fitting through with Valkyra being able to come to power again under the guise of being bonded to the lost prince.
- How will Amar be able to break the curse?
- Will Saya be able to fulfill her quest? I never really bought into the whole immortality for her people thing. Too many flaws.
- Will Kesari be able to leave her family yet again?
- Will Mitul be able to reconnect with his lost lover, Kamaal Ruman? Why is Mitul so very loyal to Amar?
- If Valkyra had not been killed in real life what would she have done to Amar?
- What would have happened had Aleida just followed orders and had not attacked Valkyra?
- I want to know more about Lucian! Who are his real parents? Where was he from?
- What other lies did Valkyra tell Aleida?
- What did Valkyra think about running into her old advisor (Tamaya) when she was Nandini Kumar?
- What will Feros do now that Tyrus has died?
- What happened to Amar’s mother? Did she die in the blast that killed everyone else? I kept thinking that Amar would run into his parent’s bones.
- Will people plunder Shavhalla now that the ghosts are cleansed? What caused people to disappear there before?
Deciduous: falling off or shed seasonally or at a certain stage of development in the life cycle