Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!
The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness…
Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country – and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets – about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North’s sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?
Through a journey that spans a country, magic and hard-won romance are woven together with precision and brilliant design by a first-time novelist.
Reading this book was like coming home for me. As soon as I saw that map in the front of the book I had a huge smile on my face. It’s been a while since I’ve read a pure fantasy novel and I really, really enjoyed it. Brightly Woven weaves a wonderful tale of adventure, magic, friendship and romance with well-written characters fueling the story.
The only life Sydelle has ever known is life in her small desert town on the border of her country. Until the wizard Wayland North arrives and whisks her away, just before the bordering country’s army invades her home. Sydelle always wanted to leave and see her country, but following a wizard – who has no sense of direction and doesn’t seem to bath – all the way to the capitol is not really what she had in mind. On the run from Wayland’s enemy and experiencing freak storms and a lack of money, Sydelle and Wayland reach the capitol only to have things continue to go wrong, including some interesting news and a trip to Auster (the country declaring war on Sydelle’s country of Palmarta).
I loved Wayland North. He’s such a unique character (and I mean that in the sense of his personality). A wizard who works alone, likes his ale a bit too much and an aversion to bathing. He seems rough, brash and abrupt at times, but he has a good and kind heart. He genuinely wants to do the right thing, he just has to learn that actually telling people what’s going on might get them to agree with him rather than fight him the whole way. Which Sydelle does. Sydelle is a very confident young woman. She’s smart and capable, and doesn’t let Wayland walk all over her. She has her moments of temper tantrums – which lead to more trouble than they should, but that way leads to spoilers – and naivety (she’s from a very remote town, after all) but overall Sydelle is a strong, likeable character.
The draw to this book for me was the adventure. Above all else, the story is Sydelle’s journey from small town girl, to larger than life, during a crazy adventure across country. Yes, there’s a bit of romance but it’s not the focus of the story. The novel is very plot and character driven and I was sucked right in. The detail given to each place Sydelle and Wayland stopped, and to the people they met, was wonderful. The history and culture that Alexandra Bracken put into her world really brought it to life. It was never an information dump, and there weren’t pages devoted to this new world. Rather, we are given the information to understand as Sydelle thinks it and lives it. It was definitely the right way to go about it.
Alexandra’s story is so rich with information in a smooth, flowing voice that I didn’t want to put it down. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys straight up fantasy – it won’t disappoint.
Brightly Woven is part of the 2010 Debut Author Challenge