My full review is here: http://diamondlovestoread.blogspot.com/2013/04/daughter-of-exile-by-isabel-glass.html
This book was a strong fantasy novel, with danger and suspense--and bits of romance weaved through. We follow Angarred, the "daughter of exile" from her home where she has lived in exile her entire life, with her father. She lives far from the city of her birth--Pergodi. And we travel with her on her journey through the country, to Pergodi, and in between. It's not so much where she goes-- as what she learns while she travels. Whether it's Pergodi or the royal court-things and people are not what they seem. angarred wants to get to the bottom of things-- after all her life is in danger!
I don't want to reveal too much because it could spoil it for you. I really loved this book. I can't say it enough. The love Angarred felt for Mathewar was slow to grow and even slower to be realized. There was sadness and political turmoil, but the mystery that surrounded the lands kept unfolding, and even in my wildest guesses I didn't know which turns it would take.
The strength and likability of the characters was so significant that I fell in love with the world Isabel Glass created. There is a second novel, (interesting to see 2 novels instead of the now-typical trilogy or series), which I plan on reading. I already got it from the library.
If you like fantasy, but want a world that is different from all those generic Narnias/LOTR/wonderland-- pick up this book. It's flavor didn't remind me of anything I've read before. And that is something in itself.
I thought the writing was, well, perfect. How can that be? The writing was perfect because I forgot I was reading. I actually felt I was living the story with Angarred. I'd pick up the book and forget there even was a narrator to this story, a woman who wrote this book. I would think, "what's going on with Mathewar?" I kept thinking of the book, fighting with myself to slow down so it wouldn't end. This has not happened in a very long time for me. The amount of joy I get from reading a book that so well can push the story out on the forefront, and leaves all the stylistic/word-choices in the background--enough so that it fits how it should: the story being most important. So yeah, the writing was seamless.
I remember being a little skeptical as to how all these elements could fit in I've read a lot of fantasy that has "everything" simply to say they have "everything"-- you know? This book incorporated magicians, magic stones, giants, and human-animal transformations very flawlessly. All these things felt necessary to the story. They all had great purpose, great meaning. And the meaning didn't have to be told to the reader (the giants are significant because...) no-- instead I knew why things were important.
The author quickly fills the reader in on the world, without the typical introduction chapters that explain how everything works. There wasn't any of that, if there was more in the beginning it felt natural. I sometimes feel in fantasy that the authors rush to fill the reader in so the story can begin. In this case, the story began immediately but the reader picked things up as the story moved forward. It was explained in a way I could understand, and also didn't take away or pause the storytelling to do so.
For example, there was something called "Sattery;" which turned out to be the equivalent of opium or heroin in a liquid. Well we figure this out quickly, but there is ever a direct mention "this is an opiate" or whatever. The effects were described, and slowly more information about it was revealed-- but I always felt "in the loop"
This book was amazing. I can't wait to read the sequel. But I'm sad that the story will end. I feel like I'm best friends with Angarred, and in love with Mathewar *swoon* I can't wait to join them in the rest of their journey.