the silvered

Thursday, January 10, 2013 |
I may be over vampires and growing weary of other paranormal creatures in fiction, but a werewolf/magic-wielding society under attack by an empire devoted to the pursuit of science?  Sounds like something I want to read (like, yesterday).  Pair that synopsis with blurbs by Kate Elliott (Cold Magic) and Michelle West (Silence), and I put Tanya Huff’s The Silvered on my wishlist, despite not having read any of her prior work.  My brother gave me a bookstore gift card for Christmas, and this was the first title I picked.  The rest is history.

the silvered by tanya huff book cover
The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off defending the border, it falls to Mirian Maylin and Tomas Hagen—she a low-level mage, he younger brother to the Pack-leader—to save them. Together the two set out on the kidnappers’ trail, racing into the heart of enemy territory. With every step the odds against them surviving and succeeding soar…

Mirian is a mage college dropout, only she hasn’t told her parents about her failure yet.  They’re social-climbers, and they’re sure that an advantageous marriage for Mirian is the family’s ticket to a place at the top of Aydori society.  However, war with the empire is brewing, and soon her mother won’t care about the opera or making a perfect match – she, along with the rest of the country, will be running for her life.  Only Mirian decides to take destiny into her own hands and runs toward danger.  With the help of shape-shifting Tomas, she may survive war long enough to do something good.

The cover art suggests a steampunk aesthetic, but this isn’t really steampunk – it’s high fantasy.  WHAT?!  Yes, high fantasy with deft characterization, which actually makes it unusual as well as unexpected.  The Silvered is peopled with flawed characters who change, learn and whose motivations do not fit in black and/or white boxes.  It’s not that it’s completely character-driven, it is that there are no flat, clich├ęd personalities or relationships.  The story’s scope is EPIC, but it is made accessible by the paranormal element (werewolves) and small, everyday interactions.  It is an utterly appealing, unputdownable adventure – with teeth. 

The one and only caveat to my enjoyment of The Silvered was a certain plot point that was eerily similar to a development in Kristin Cashore’s Graceling.  If you’ve read one of these books and then pick up the other you’ll know exactly what I mean.  To be clear: it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the chase, of Mirian’s attempts at harnessing mage power (and finding herself in the process), or of the political machinations within the capital city.  It simply took me out of the story and became a ‘thing to note in the review.’  While Huff completes a story arc, there’s room for more in this world of weres and mages and science-crazed humans, and I hope to see more fantastic world-building and power to come.

Recommended for: fans of adult and young adult fantasy (it’s probably a good crossover title, as the protagonist is nineteen years old), those who love paranormal fiction and have wondered if they dare try epic storytelling, and anyone with a taste for adventure, risk-taking, menace and destiny in their pleasure reading.

5 comments:

Liviania said...

This sounds awesome, and I liked Huff's vampire stuff back in the day.

Actually, it's been awhile since I actually read a vampire book and I'm kind of hankering for one.

Addicted2Heroines said...

Great review! This was my first Huff novel and I really enjoyed it.

danya said...

I hadn't heard of this book before — thanks for putting it on my radar! I'm not usually that big on werewolves but I do enjoy a well-crafted high fantasy, so I may have to check this one out :)

Ryan said...

I haven't read a Tanya Huff book since I read through her vampire stuff preblogging days. I may have to look into her books again.

Alexia561 said...

Nice review! Haven't read Tanya Huff in awhile, but remember really liking her books. Will have to take a look at this one next time I'm at the bookstore! Thanks for sharing!

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