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The Whitefire Crossing: The Shattered Sigil, Book One Paperback – August 1, 2011
"An American Duchess" by Caroline Fyffe
A woman’s heart dares to defy the rules of Victorian society in USA Today bestselling author Caroline Fyffe’s novel of romance, royalty, and a little revenge. | Learn more
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"A tense adventure fantasy, with magic, intrigue, and engaging characters in a desperate race to cross a deadly mountain range...an exciting original read." --Martha Wells, author of The Cloud Roads
"Fully developed characters. Across the board worldbuilding... Accomplished writing. Engaging storytelling... Add it all up and there's no doubt in my mind that The Whitefire Crossing is not only one of the best fantasy debuts of 2011, but it's also one of the year's best fantasy novels period..." --Robert Thompson of Fantasy Book Critic
About the Author
After college she moved to the climber’s paradise of Boulder, Colorado, and somehow managed to get a masters degree in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado in between racking up ski days and peak climbs. She now works in the aerospace industry and is married to an Australian scientist who shares her love for speculative fiction and mountain climbing. She’s had to slow down a little on the adrenaline sports since the birth of her son, but only until he’s old enough to join in. She writes every spare moment she's not working or adventuring with her family.
- Paperback : 300 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781597802833
- ISBN-13 : 978-1597802833
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Publisher : Night Shade (August 1, 2011)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 1597802832
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,077,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Dev is an outrider for caravans as they travel from one city to another, particularly through the mountains in which he uses his mountaineering expertise to scout for any danger. He also takes smuggling jobs on the side. He's been lauded to be very good at his job, though a risk taker for his love and thrill of rock climbing, he's been risk averse on the smuggling jobs he takes; until now. Losing all his savings due to some circumstances, savings he needed to save the life of someone he cares and is responsible for, he's forced into smuggling a young man, Kiran, into a city with a heavily guarded border against his better judgement. Unbeknownst to him, Kiran is a mage on the run from a very powerful and dangerous mage who'd stop at nothing to get him back.
The book is narrated in both first and third person limited perspectives. First person belongs to Dev, while the third person limited belongs to Kiran. I personally love this exercise, while I know some will find the style not to their liking, but I thought it was handled quite well. The switches in POV are marked preceding the passages, so there will be no confusion. I don't think readers will have problem getting into rhythm if that is of concern.
The Whitefire Crossing was a real treat of a novel. I'm not a fan of books that spend a good portion travelling, yet this novel packs some good energy and enthusiasm along with a thriller element through this making it quite entertaining and fresh. It's in fact the best part of novel. Two thirds of the novel in or so, the energy of the book drops substantially as the action and movement slows down and the plot not as interesting as what came before it. Main problem for me that some of the "reveals" were already heavily foreshadowed and easily inferred so they lost the impact when introduced along with the emotional impact in our characters. Picks right back up towards the end though with some exciting turn of events followed by an aftermath portion which sets up the next stage of the series in a manner which is of great interest to me with some promise of political intrigue which I enjoy very much.
The novel itself can be characterized as one about choices and consequences, juxtaposed with themes of trust and freedom. Throughout the whole novel both of our main characters are presented with a myriad of choices, choices that weigh heavy on them. It's these dilemmas that drive the character conflicts throughout the novel. There's a lot of introspection in which these struggles are depicted, in particular when they involve questions of trust versus risking freedom. If that isn't enough, both characters are confined by self-interest agendas that may force them to betray each other, and themselves for that matter, as they view it as an inevitability of their situation charged by shackles from their past and potential future, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The book features plenty of magic use, and I thought some of it was quite interesting when considering the cost-benefit analysis of magic usage. Personally would like to see more details of how the magic works and what limits does it actually have. For purposes of what was featured in this novel, they're not that important but some events towards the end hints to me that they might be in the future. The Whitefire Crossing is limited in scope as plot needs demand, so worldbuilding suffers a bit because of it. But don't ignore that which was featured coming to life in the pages, particularly through the mountain trek. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence throughout the novel though, which fuels the imagination about the possibilities in this world. Very much looking forward to how the boundaries of what we've been educated on expand in future installments.
Courtney Schafer has written a very promising debut which I highly recommend. Well written in an unorthodox style giving a fresh energy to some traditional ideas among the new. Main strength being the character conflicts presented throughout, and the enthusiastic and detailed narrative of mountaineering portions of the novel energized by Schafer's expertise of rock climbing. Plenty of action and a fast moving book which should keep readers entertained and turning the pages. Sequel of the novel is The Tainted City, very much looking forward to it, and hope many of you give this series a try.
When I received my advanced copy of Whitefire, I took a minute to read about the author's background. As it turns out she's an avid rock climber with years of experience. She even has a picture of herself inverted on her "About" page on her website. I always find it difficult to walk the line between writing what I know and committing mental masturbation. Look how much I know about this! In a surprising development (notice the sarcasm here) Schafer is a better writer than I am. While she may have shared my same concerns, she shouldn't have.
Every second spent on rock climbing or related activities in Whitefire is a breath of fresh air. Her enthusiasm bleeds through the page infusing her main character Dev with vigor and life that couldn't have been accomplished any other way. It's clear that when Schafer put fingers to keys she was excited to write this story. This passion sustains the novel in its early stages and provides the momentum that carries it to a great conclusion.
Schafer's main character Dev is an outrider for a merchant caravan with a penchant for scaling difficult mountain sides. He's also a part time smuggler who gets talked into bringing the mage Kiran across the border that divides two nations with diametrically opposed viewpoints on the legality of magic. Kiran ends up posing as Dev's apprentice which provides Schafer adequate opportunities to wax about talus, pinions, scree, and a host of other climbing nuances.
Once Dev and Kiran get out of the mountains, the story is only half done. Schafer proves that she's not a one trick pony immediately delving into a far more gritty and urban setting. While some of the urban world felt flat in comparison to the lushness of the mountains, by the novels conclusion it starts to reveal itself in more depth opening up a host of avenues for future installments in the series.
I always find that when reading a review, one of the things I want to know about is point of view and how the novel handles it. In this case, Whitefire is written with two different narrative perspectives. Dev is given the first person treatment where Kiran's point of view is from the third person. If I'm being honest, I really struggled at times from the switching points of view. When I read my eyes train themselves on where to focus in sentences for pertinent information and when the switch occurs in point of view from first to third these information cues switch too. Ultimately, it was a small annoyance (and possibly exclusive only to me and the way I read) and given the inherent bias in a first person narrative getting an additional point of view was refreshing.
Equally refreshing was Schafer's decision to write two male protagonists. Every female fantasy reader is now saying - ugh, all fantasy books have male protagonists! And they'd be right. But not all male protagonists are written by women - in fact, very few are. The only thing rarer is male writers writing female protagonists. I can only hope that more male authors look to Schafer's cross gender example and attempt to write stronger women. There's no doubt a few male fantasy authors could use to imagine being in woman's shoes a little more and in their undergarments a little less.
Whitefire is one of the best novels I've read in 2011 (out of 38 so far, but who's counting?). What starts off as an adventure novel of rock climbing and trekking quickly turns into a full blown fantasy romp full of magic, ne'er-do-wells, and flawed heroes. I'm always nervous when I recommend a book this highly, especially when it doesn't do something that's going to change the genre. But what can I say? Schafer's debut novel totally charmed me and I can't wait to read her sequel, The Tainted City, due out late next year.
I was wrong to prejudge.
I knew from the first page that Courtney Schafer knew what she was about and that as a consequence, I was in for a story I could lose myself inside. The world Schafer creates unfolds. She doesn't try to force anything, doesn't try to establish the complete history, political structure, social lives of her world, and instead allows the reader to discover the world through the eyes of her characters- Kiran and Dev.
The Whitefire Crossing is an adventure story, a buddy story, a romance story and yes, it is also a fantasy. The fantasy, though prominent, is so well-crafted, that as the story develops you can imagine a place like Ninavel or Alathia being real. You can picture the Mages as they walk the streets of Ninavel, the towering Whitefires, the cramped and sooty byways of Kost. That's what I want as a reader, to be so immersed in a story that I can picture it as a destination, a true place that could exist.
I would have gladly paid for the pleasure of reading this book, and plan to purchase the second in the series. In the future, I'll try to leave the judgement for after I've read the book, but for now, I'm glad I took the chance on Schafer's entertaining novel The Whitefire Crossing.
Top reviews from other countries
The author also seems to LOVE climbing and that really shines through in the novel. Without spoiling anything, the whole story doesn't revolve around people going up cliffs, but when it does you can really feel the passion and joy the author takes in it. When I flipped to the end and saw that she loved climbing, I was not surprised. Personally I couldn't even stand climbing up those walls with plastic handholds when I was a kid, but there's something really fun about reading about something when the author makes it feel so very magical that you almost even catch yourself wanting to do it.
Mir hat „The Whitefire Crossing“ wirklich gut gefallen – ich habe den Kauf nicht im Mindesten bereut und habe meinen Freunden empfohlen dasselbe zu tun und dieses wirklich beeindruckende Debut zu kaufen.
Besonders hervorstechen tut das Buch durch das Einbringen des Kletterns. Die Autorin selbst ist eine leidenschaftliche Kletterin und anstatt das Buch mit Informationen darüber vollzupacken, was sie alles über das Klettern weiß und erzählen könnte, konzentriert sie sich auf die Kerninformationen und schafft es so vor allem ihren Spaß an dem Hobby rüberzubringen. Beim Lesen habe ich selbst Lust bekommen den nächsten Berg zu erklimmen!
Die Geschichte selbst ist spannend und spricht auch auf tieferer Ebene Themen an. Während Dev versucht ein Versprechen zu halten und dafür Dinge tun muss, die er aus moralischen Gründen nicht täte, wenn er das Geld nicht so dringend brauchen würde, versucht Kiran das erste Mal in seinem Leben das zu tun, was weitgehend als das Richtige bezeichnet werden würde, auch wenn er nicht damit aufgewachsen ist. Ein wiederkehrendes Thema ist das Vertrauen in andere Menschen. Und wem die inneren Konflikte der Charaktere nicht reichen, der kann sich immer noch an dem Kampf zwischen zwei Blutmagiern erfreuen, den mächtigsten und sadistischsten Magiern der Welt, zwischen den Kiran und Dev sich wiederfinden.
Für einen Debut-Roman ist dies wirklich ein fantastisches Produkt und ich würde jedem raten es zumindest einmal in die Hand zu nehmen, wenn man an dieser Art Buch Gefallen findet. Es erwarten einen starke Charaktere, wundervolle Landschaften und der Nervenkitzel des Kletterns.
„The Whitefire Crossing“ was a really gripping read! I loved the characters (though both of the protagonists are male, the female ones are as compelling – one must love Cara and I even had a thing for Jylla).
The author herself likes to climb but instead of giving unnecessary information the reader does not want or need (like it is often the case when hobbies are involved in writing), she manages to transport the joy of climbing and just the right amount of information to make me curious about climbing. While reading I had the urge to find and climb the next mountain!
The story is very gripping. While Dev does what he needs to do to keep a promise though that entails doing things he would not have done if he were not in desperate need of the money, Kiran for the first time in his life tries to do what is right though it is not what he grew up with. Many parts of the story deal with trusting others. They seem to have enough to deal with on their own without being stuck right inside a feud between two blood mages, the most powerful and most sadistic mages known in their world.
Beautiful landscapes, compelling characters, a beautiful and deep story and the pure joy of reading about the joy of climbing – that’s why I recommended “The Whitefire Crossing” to all of my friends. A stunning debut novel!