The kingdom of Lumatere has been cursed and closed off to the rest of the world for ten years. After the royal family was assassinated, the people was driven by fear and prosecuted the wrong group of people, burning them at stakes. One of them, a magician, cursed the land with her dying breath and no one knows if those trapped inside the walls are dead or living in peace unlike the refugees the lost Lumateres has become. Finnikin was the childhood friend of Prince Balthazar and when a young woman called Evanjalin claims he’s still alive, that those inside is still alive, he clings to the hope of someday seeing his home again. They just need to break the curse, and for that they need a prince. Also there’s the small matter of whether Finnikin was to blame for it all, as the magician claimed before she died.
This is good adventurous story, but not the best fantasy. The only parts that stuck with me is the suspense of what happened with the Lumateres/Lumatarian (that sounds like a band) who got trapped inside the city when the curse happened and the refugees that found themselves suddenly locked out of their homes. You can’t help but make the connection to refugees in the real world, especially because of wars with cities like Aleppo* that’s closed of, no one going in or out as I write this. But that is more an example of reading the right book at the right time than this book containing something special. It was a hard contrast, the fever camps and starvation, and it drove the characters, but it never got deeper. The target was always to break the curse and head home, which is far easier in the book than it will ever be in real life, and ruined a lot of the point. Sure, it starts all epic with having been locked out for a decade, but it gets pretty unrealistic from there, even for a fantasy book. Magic can’t solve everything, then you wouldn’t have a problem to begin with, at least not for so many years. If only they hadn’t killed all their healers…
It is, despite all that, a very good-hearted story about bravery and determination, trust and guilt. The characters are good enough written and… that’s it. Not very much of a plot, they travel around, issues come up and they get to prove themselves a couple of times, but the whole aim is getting home. The reason this book wasn’t worth it for me was that I could see the “big reveal” coming for a long time, and even the goodreads synopsis could spoil you, so be careful if you want to give this book a go. Also the world-building … not even going to get into that. It felt like magic was just involved for the sake of keeping the story light and the solutions simple, you could easily have written the same story with war as the cause of not being able to return. But then it wouldn’t have been so easy for a seventeen year old boy to take the lead, now would it?
I don’t think I’ll read the next book, there’s just so many other, better fantasy (and ya) books out there.
*Also I wrote this a while ago, so don’t yell at me that the situation in Aleppo has changed, etc.