She peered back over her shoulder at Ari. “Master, what is this?” “The Sisterhood call it many different names: the Forest of Revelation; the Forest of Enlightenment; and the Forest of Reflection, are just three such given names,” said Ari. “It can only be seen at night, and it is the reason why I brought you out here.” “I don’t understand.” “In the years before I founded The Order,” Ari began in explanation, “if a Jaymidari had concerns about a Sanatsai in her charge, but those concerns did not yet warrant the binding of Zarantar , she would bring the Sanatsai in question to this place.” “Why?” “The forest provided a final opportunity for troublesome Sanatsai to guiding such a Sanatsai would send her charge into the forest to walk the path to the other side, in order to determine if the binding of Zarantar was the appropriate course of action.” Kayden was confused. “How exactly would sending somebody into the forest help a Sister make that decision?” “Walking the path reveals the path of the walker.” Kayden wanted to roll her eyes but settled for groaning on the inside. The cryptic response made no sense whatsoever―ergo, it was less than useless. She averted her eyes from Ari back to the dirt path ahead of her, disappearing into the forest. “If I am expected to enter the forest,” she said, resignedly, “I would like to know what’s in there waiting for me.” “I couldn’t tell you,” Ari conceded. “I’ve never entered the forest myself; it’s been almost a century since anyone has. But as I understand it, what lies within is different for everyone.” Kayden peered back over her shoulder at Ari again. “So what do I do?” “Just make your way to the end of the path; I’ll be waiting for you there.” “That’s it?” Surely it couldn’t be that simple. “Yes, that’s it,” affirmed Ari. “But I must warn you…” Kayden listened attentively. “It’s important you don’t turn back or stray from the path.” “Understood,” said Kayden, although she didn’t really understand. She returned her gaze to the path laid out before her and stiffened her resolve. Whatever obstacles may be lying in wait for her, within the forest, she would overcome, just like she always did. She marched forward purposefully―setting one foot in front of the other―initiating her journey into the unknown. The Forest of Revelation held no fear for her.
Kayden Jayta is born into natural talent when it comes to magic. She is two years ahead of other apprentices her age and striving to be the youngest Sanatsai accepted into the folds of the Order. Her amazing talents and high level of intelligence are coupled with her arrogance, her manipulative manner and her perpetual anger. All things that are frowned upon in anyone, but especially with a woman. A powerful woman.
But her reasoning for wanting to join the Order is at odds for everything the Order stands for: dedication to the prevention of the misuse and abuse of magic.
Her immense power and her equally immense bitterness draws the attention of the administrator of her school, who breaks decades of decorum and tradition to take her to the highly protected location of the Order itself to plead for assistance in steering Kayden onto the right path before it’s too late.
But before Kayden can be persuaded to do anything, she must first address her deeply held secrets and the hurt they harbor, and why exactly her administrator, a legendary figure of her own, can recognize Kayden’s potential and darkness when she strives so hard to squash it?
A book with strong female characters? Check.
A book with strong female characters who don’t subscribe to the pretty “I’m strong and pretty and lovable” persona that so many books with female main characters adopt? CHECK.
A book where romance is never a motivating factor for any plot line? CHECK CHECK CHECK!
There’s nothing wrong with a romantic novel, I indulge in them as well. Especially when I’m feeling particularly brain fried and want some mush to sink into and not have to think about. Gregoire’s debut novel was read quicker than I thought I could read it, but slower than a mush novel because he doesn’t waste time trying to make you like his heroine. If you can even call her that. I absolutely love that she is this kick ass, amazing character who doesn’t depend on people liking her. And while her prickly exterior is partly due to her past, she owns it rather than thinking she needs to change to fit in.
Kayden does some really crappy things to a lot of people in this book. I don’t condone people doing crappy things to other people as a show of strong character. But I do appreciate an author who can look at his main character (and side characters, quite frankly) and say “You know what. She is amazing and strong and beautiful. But because *blank* and *blank* happened to her, and it was pretty traumatic, she’s not particularly likable. She went through things and didn’t come out farting rainbows and pixie dust.”
In addition to that, his other main character is *also* a strong female character. A lot more likable, but it fit her personality to be so. It didn’t compromise her strength at all. I adored that.
OH. And there was no love triangle, love scene, mushy staring into each other’s eye moments AT ALL. In fact, Kayden doesn’t adhere to any specific sexuality in the book at all nor does the book make a big deal about that because it simply isn’t important to the plot. The author knew his book was good without it and didn’t appear to feel the need to throw any of it to pull anyone in. He believed in the quality of his book, and quite frankly, it totally worked for me. Like I said, I enjoy a good romantic novel as much as the next person, but it’s been well over a year since I’ve actively sought them out, and a lot of times, I’ve put books on the back burner because they’re primarily a romance novel.
Gregoire also remained very constant in his wordings and his descriptions. None of the spells changed powers in the middle of the book, none of them were hard to understand, his world is very complete and complex without being confusing, and his hand to hand combat scenes were very realistic. I read a couple of them out loud to my husband, who has a background in martial arts, and he was impressed that an author did so well in describing them. (And he did do well because I wasn’t bored while reading them!)
I said it in the previous post, but this book was sneaky amazing. Really. It tied its ends up pretty nicely and fairly neatly so it could very well be a standalone book, but if it’s not, I will be very eager to read the next.
Check him out!
Here’s his blog as well if you’re interested, and he also has a goodreads profile.
If you’re interested in another slant on this book, check out my sister’s post here. She’s a much better writer than I am 😉