Rift (Nightshade Prequel #1) by Andrea Cremer
Rating: 4.5 stars
I first saw this a while after I finished reading the Nightshade series. I was really excited because it sounded good and I was so in pain with the ending of Nightshade. That was entirely unforgivable. So well, I hoped the Rift series might redeem the author and also have a nice ending XD
I love the olden day stories and the old style of language and writing, I don't know, it just have such a literary feel to it. I really like historical novels (but not the boring ones) because I not only get to enjoy a good story, there are new knowledge to be received which I may otherwise never come into contact with. In Rift, I learnt a lot about the olden church and Christian religion, the names/terminologies and purposes of the old churches (though don't believe in all of them, as I'm sure some of them were made up). Set in the Scottish lowlands, where Lords and Ladies still existed, Rift led us into a whole other story world. It explored Scottland in the 'mythical' time and area. In a way, this book was very different from the Nightshade series, which was a lot more contemporary/modern. It also did not involve creatures with muzzels, at least not yet in this book. There was a lot of fighting and protecting the country/world against the evil of the "otherworld". Seamlessly interwoven, there were also some political struggles within the church as well as between religions and between the church and the rich Lords of the country. These all reflected upon the time and age of the chosen setting, as well as the amount of research the author put into the book.
What I liked the most about the book was the fighting. I've always enjoyed reading about sword-to-sword or dagger-to-dagger fights (or any of the older weapons. NOT guns, never guns for some reason.) It makes me visualise the graceful movements and control in close range fighting as if I'm experiencing all the rush of the characters myself. Good descriptions of fights and skills also make me want to learn to fight myself (haha, not an entirely absurd notion XP). Rift didn't gloss over the fights and skills, it presented what a good swordsmanship and horsemanship looked like.
Another huge reason I loved this book was Ember's fierce and rebellious nature. As a girl, she was deeply suppressed by her family and forced to follow her father's wishes exactly. She never wanted to be a child-bearing lady of some rich lord as her father planned, but she wanted to be a warrior, to prove her fighting skills. Even when she was not supposed to, she hid and learnt to use a sword. She was also not supposed to become a warrior for the mysterious Conatus, but she defied the nature of a "normal" noble-born lady and chose her path. Like a man, she fought fiercely and with even more skilled than a normal knight. To some extend, this reflected the fight for woman's rights. Not that I'm being cliche or anything, but it did present this under current theme. Every change requires someone who is different to lead it. Ember was different. Though she was rebellious, she wasn't stupid or headstrong. That differed her from your average smart-mouth, clueless YA main female characters and made me like her. She was focused on her trainings and also stopped to sort out information logically. She didn't fall head-over-heels in love instantly and forget everything in a second (another point I liked). Lastly, though she was raised as a posh lady, she had good manners and didn't take her title too seriously. She was the down-to-earth sort of girl.
Barrow was another character I really enjoyed reading about. The instant he came onto the page, I knew how he and Ember were going to work out. He was strong and calm, as well as always supportive of people he trusted. He was the kind of guy who would do anything to protect those he loved, and once he admitted his love, would do everything to stay with that person. (Point: I hate heoric main guy characters who push girls they like away for a long time without good reason, or even with good reason.) He was Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome who stayed silent most of the time but can kill you before you make a single noise. I liked the patience and support he showed Ember and the friendship and trust they developed. Whether something more happened to that friendship? Well, you'll have to find out yourself! But oh, I loved reading about his fighting! And the part they the two of them fight! It was both hilarious and sweet.
The plot was also fast moving and entertaining. The only thing I didn't like was the parts of the story told in Eira's perspective. Andrea Cremer wrote this book in dual prespectives. Though the book was written in third-person, you see inside thoughts from two people: Ember and Eira (one of the leaders of the Guard). Some chapters (more or less the majority) were wrote in Ember's perspective, well others in Eira's. They alternate to bring two sides of the story together. Ember's chapters are more action-involved and at a faster pace, while Eira's chapters were more reason-based and more otherworldly matters. I didn't really like reading the latter and found it a bit slow and boring at times, though necessary. Otherwise, it was very well written and full of the formal language of the old.
Anyway, aside from the interesting plot, it was truly the characters which captivated me. I loved the love and trust in this book, as well as caught in the betrayal and darkness in the story. The ending was sweet. While it left me on an unfinished note, it was a good place to stop. I'm very interested in the next book, and I sincerely hope it won't disappoint. This book was much better than the Nightshade series, which I didn't like very much.
OH! And I liked this cover more! This is the cover of the hardcover copy, it looks even more stunning!!! Just had to put it up XP
Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer's internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy!
Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother's life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.With action, adventure, magic, and tantalizing sensuality, this book is as fast-paced and breathtaking as the Nightshade novels.