Nihal lives in one of the many towers of the Land of the Wind. There is nobody like her in the Overworld: big violet eyes, pointed ears, and blue hair. She is an expert in swordplay and the leader of a handful of friends that includes Sennar the wizard. She has no parents; brought up by an armorer and a sorceress, Nihal seems to be from nowhere.
Things suddenly change when the Tyrant takes charge. Nihal finds herself forced to take action when she is faced with the most difficult mission a girl her age could imagine.
Fierce, strong, and armed with her black crystal sword, Nihal sets out to become a real warrior. Readers will be riveted as she forges her powerful path of resistance.
Design – Stefano Moro Illustration – Corrado Vanelli Art Director – Fernando Ambrosi Rating – 5/5
The illustration on this cover is stunning. It’s what drew me to this book and it’s exactly as Nihal is described. This is a beautiful digital painting. Although I think Nihal looks a bit too skinny, I love the intricacy in her sword and the way you can look at her right hand and see that she’s gripping it tightly. The title is simple and perfect, and it allows the illustration to shine.
This is a book originally published in Italian 10 years ago, and is the first in a trilogy. Nihal is the last half-elf, raised by a weaponsmith. Her story is her struggle to become an elite warrior in order to avenge her people, but as she trains Nihal begins to question her motivation. She and her magician enemy-turned-friend Sennar fight to heal the lands ruled by the Tyrant as they deal with their personal demons. There are a lot of battles, training sequences, and self-reflection.
- Sennar – I was a fan of Sennar from the moment he was introduced. He foils Nihal and becomes her enemy, but the attack on their city forces a truce and they become friends. While Nihal goes off to train for battle, Sennar focuses on becoming a high-ranking wizard in order to advise the council politically during the war. Sennar gets frustrated with Nihal often, demanding her to show some kind of emotion, to be outwardly happy to see him or to be angry with him. Sennar shows strength quietly and inwardly while Nihal feels that she must kill to show strength.
- action + plot – I really enjoyed this book’s focus on Nihal’s training and self-discovery in the face of battle. Nihal is most at home holding a weapon, striking down those she perceives as enemies, but is lost when she thinks about what to do when peace is achieved. This book does a good job of balancing action with Nihal’s growing realizations about her own motives. There’s no romance thrown in for the sake of having a romance.
- Ido – Ido has fought hard to be where he is as a Dragon Knight, and he is too similar to Nihal for them to get along easily. The dwarf is tough and stubborn, pushing Nihal to do things much differently than she would ever think to. Ido forces his mentee to slow down and actually think things through before bursting into action, something Nihal is unaccustomed to. But he also trusts her to figure herself out and know what she needs to do.
- vengeance – Nihal, rather than obsessing over avenging the death of her father or the destruction of her home city, is hellbent on vengeance for her people. Instead of caring about the things she loves, Nihal only cares about avenging a group of people she has never known. In any case, Nihal’s just so convinced that she must fight in order to fix things, and she never stops dwelling on her anger. I would understand if it were in response to her father’s death, but she has never met another half-elf.
- Fen – The issue is not at all with Fen himself, a valiant Dragon Knight, but with Nihal’s childish devotion to him in spite of everything else happening around them. Fen is the longtime love of Nihal’s aunt and mentor, Soana, and takes less than zero interest in Nihal romantically. There’s also the fact that the Dragon Knights like Fen and those trying to become Dragon Knights like Nihal are in the middle of fighting a losing battle to free their lands from the Tyrant. For someone as stubborn and tough as Nihal, she sure does sulk around thinking about Fen a lot.
Nihal freed herself from his grasp. Blood was pounding in her temples. She reacted to his hostility as though she were in a battle. Her hand went to her hilt and she unsheathed her sword.
Time stopped for a moment then. Sennar’s blood seemed to halt before it fell to the ground. Nihal dropped her sword, frozen. – Loc. 3153
In that anonymous crowd it was as if she were seeing the faces of her own city – neighbors, the kids she played with as a child, shopkeepers. She almost thought she saw Sennar, his tunic flapping about him, his cheek still unscathed. She closed her eyes to block out the din. – Loc. 3606
Acquired: NetGalley (ebook)