Full review originally posted on Book Frivolity*As a side note, the ARC I received was still in the editing process, so to be fair, I won't be commenting on error of continuity or grammar etc.
Narrative: Third Person, Omni, Subjective
There is always something magical about a new fantasy series that features a strong female protagonist, that's not a simpering princess, a scheming queen or an arse kicking assassin. I for one celebrate when a mature female gets a starring role, and Alwenna although a courtly Queen, has intelligence, guts and strength without being an over the top character trope. Plus, she has a fairly earth shattering surprise up her sleeve!
The Waterborne Blade has a creep up plot that makes you think you have a handle on where the whole novel is heading, but about half of the way through, you realise you've just been running about with the characters for a while until the real story kicks in. I won't lie, I did start thinking that if there was any more travelling back and forth, I'd probably start scratching my head and losing interest. However, I have to hand it to Murray, she certainly knows when to kick in the exciting developments in plot and character to keep you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think you've reached the right place to set it down, you end up reading right through the night to find out where exactly the plot is about to take you. It pretty much blind sighted me and I read a lot of fantasy! There are parts that almost bleed into the Horror genre by the end, and I certainly never saw that coming! Anything more than that, and I'll end up adding spoilers!
The characters are quite nicely developed. Apart from Alwenna, we have the juxtaposing Kings Man Weaver, who is in pretty much every way Alwenna's opposite. It was interesting to watch the two of them crash off each other during the sections they were together, and then to see them realise that their predisposed ideas of each other are wrong on most counts.
Alwenna's point of view mostly uses flashbacks to fill in her back story, whilst Weaver's relies on character interaction and conversation. I didn't realise it at the time, but it was quite an ingenious way doing it. The flashbacks also work to give development to Alwenna's character, by supplying examples of her developing 'power', whilst the conversations with war comrades that Weaver has also bolsters his character as a warrior and King's man. It didn't register at the time that the mechanism was working in that way, until it was over!
The two other characters that make up the main group, but aren't point of view characters were actually handled well. The were pretty well fleshed out, and I felt a connection to them that I usually find lacking with the peripheral characters. I do hope to see more of them in the next novel.
Actually by the end of this novel, there's no real way of determining who will be coming back, or if they do, in what state!
The ending is certainly a cracker, so
Fast paced, enjoyable, not too heavy, not too light, just right fantasy!Harcopy Worthy?
I think so indeedy! I'd especially love to see the finished product!