THE MOUNTAIN OF KEPT MEMORY
There winds up being a lot to juggle here, and Neumeier could have easily let one or more of the intriguing plot and worldbuilding elements she’s working with slip, but instead the result is an extremely well-paced and balanced narrative. Gulien and Oressa make for great viewpoint characters; they’re both clever and likeable but still fallible in a very realistic way. The story around them is so interesting in each of its threads that it’s hard not to simultaneously want to stick with just the political manoeuvring or the magical backstory, while also returning to whichever part of the story you just left. Topped off with a very satisfying ending that leaves plenty of room for interesting new stories, this is a setting that will hopefully be returned to.
Gulien and Oressa Madalin, children of the stern and taciturn king of the small kingdom of Carastind, haven’t had to worry much about the outside world. Their father, whatever his flaws, is a strong ruler, and although the gods are long dead, the Kieba, their last representative, has always kept the country safe. Now, however, the king has offended the Kieba, so much so that she just might let a foreign prince usurp his rule. But there’s more than just a foreign invasion to worry about; in order to keep Carastind whole, the siblings will have to figure out the secrets of the Kieba and her mountain, as well as how to rule in the face of multiple invaders, an aggressively indifferent divine being and maybe even their own king. (SAGA, Nov., 448 pp., $25.99)