Monday, June 2, 2014

Nihal of the Land of the Wind

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.

Beth says 3.5 Stars...
So this year I decided to make a bookish New Years Resolution and it's been the only one I've ever kept going this long.  A part of that was to read more books from outside the Anglophone world and that's the main reason I was interested in Nihal, which was translated from Italian.  Well, that and the awesome cover/summary.  The plot takes a bit to get going because it's an introduction to a whole new high fantasy world, but is totally fascinating.  I really liked the world building and want to know more about the lands of the Overworld.  The Tyrant makes an excellent unseen enemy and I quite like the idea of his development into an evil powerhouse.  There is a big problem with the book: the writing.  It's hard, however, to discuss fully because this is a translation and quite often issues not present in the original bubble up in a new language.  The prose doesn't flow as smoothly as it should and tends to get unwieldy.  It's impossible to know if the issues stem from the translation or are inherent in Troisi's original writing, so I'm trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

For some reason I found Nihal palatable despite the fact that she has some qualities I rather dislike.  She's obsessive, thoughtless, and constantly disregards advice she should listen to.  However, by the end of the book she has grown quite a bit and begins to recognize her weaknesses.  Sennar is a better character by far.  He's interesting, thoughful, and compelling.  Although the first time we meet him he's obnoxious, he grows to become Nihal's biggest supporter and a powerful crusader for peace.  I really would like to have a book from his perspective!  A strength of the book is its supporting characters, who have depth and offer a range of ideas and experiences.  The fascinating politics of the Overworld form an undercurrent with many of the characters involved in one major political entity or another.  I hope that the next books explore this further.

The series is promising and I can see reasons it would be a best seller in Italy.  It's one that serious fans of high fantasy should definitely give a try.  The world is fascinating and there's serious potential for the story during the rest of the series.  I know that I'll keep going to see what happens in the Overworld.
ebook from publisher


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