Brandon Zarzyczny's Reviews > The Whitefire Crossing

The Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer
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Aug 08, 12

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Read in August, 2012

I bought this book after seeing the author's AMA, and I absolutely loved it. All of the characters are really unique and have a great back-story that you learn more about throughout the book, especially the two main characters Dev and Kiran. They both have similar beginnings in life, with Dev being used and abused as a child thief, or a Tainter (some chuckles were had at the usage of this term) where many children born in the city gain telepathic powers from the strong confluence of Earth Energy the city was built over, and the most strongly effected are sold to Gangster-Lords/Kingpins, who in term sell them off again when their powers disappear during puberty. Dev later became an Outrider, or caravan scout, which provides some amazing imagery and some unique events probably inspired by the author's own mountain climbing hobby. Kiran, however was sold to a mage, where he was used and abused much worse than Dev. The impetus for the novel comes from this background, as Kiran hires Dev through an intermediary to smuggle him past the border of their country and into the neighboring country that has very strong limitations on Magic, which will hopefully enable him to hide from his master.

Some of the best things about this story are the multiple believable villains. They are all very intelligent and evil, but they aren't pure evil, you can understand their reasoning. There are also great moments, where as a reader I was just thinking the one guy was such a bad-ass, but then you're introduced to another person and I just thought, no wait, that guy is a freaking bad-ass. I loved how new villains are introduced at different parts of the story to throw a wrench in the protagonist's plans, and I really had no idea what was going to happen next multiple times in the book. I also loved how the author kept the story moving, as a lot of things go wrong or just change causing the the characters to adapt, but unlike many other books it never felt forced. The main characters are pushed and pulled by people that are much more powerful and talented than themselves, they are far from perfect and are almost constantly over-matched. Throughout the book, Kiran is voluntarily or forcibly cut off from his magic and Dev isn't a great fighter, a genius, and he doesn't have any special powers/abilities other than being one of the best mountain climbers around with an honorable never-say-die spirit. I was very impressed that a female author was able to create such amazing believable/relatable male main-characters, though her character development also shined in her only female character in the present, Cara.

Regarding the world building, there isn't too much here, but I kind of liked that, where a big info-dump wasn't shoved down the reader's throat at the beginning of the novel (unlike many first books of a fantasy series). There was definitely a slow introduction to how this world works, and you saw it all through the character's eyes and experiences. The world appears to only be populated by humans and real-world animals, with the addition of varied forms of magic. I really liked the magic system, it wasn't super involved, but as a reader I could tell that there was a lot of thought into it and that I would love to learn more. It seems to have a pretty well described and in-depth system, especially with the blood magic, but it would be interesting to learn more about the other branches of magic. I also liked how the untalented people can make use of powerful to mundane charms created by mages, and the addition of the childhood taint (telekinesis) was very interesting, especially with how it's almost like an addiction, something that Dev craves and many of the adolescent children are unable to live without. There isn't too much talk about religion other than a name used when hoping for good luck or complaining about bad luck, there's also no signs so far as to whether the gods are real or just man-made in this book's world.

I absolutely loved the writing of this book, Courtney Schafer did a great job, especially for her first novel. She created a real page turner of a book, as there were many times where I couldn't stop reading until the section's action/drama was over. I also think that the author had amazing pacing with constantly increasing peaks and valleys where every new plot twist and development increased the tension. The ending was again really unique, without using any spoilers, I will say that I loved how the ending was far from perfect but still provided some great closure and an excellent beginning for the next novel. However, this made me very annoyed that I couldn't buy and read the sequel to this book immediately, and instead have to wait two months. :)

To end this review, I must say that this is my favorite book of the year so far and that I would recommend this book to anyone. From reading the book description I had thought that this would be a more simple adventure fantasy novel, but I was corrected when the main adventuring part of the story ended about half of the way through, and what came next turned the book a little more into an awesome epic fantasy. I really loved this book and I am anxiously awaiting the sequel, in fact I think I'm going to go pre-order it now.
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