jewel

The official blurb:

Buried beneath the layers of a traveler’s guide is a hidden history: two kingdoms, powerful gems, and the even more powerful Lapidarys who bind them. Lin and Sima, caught in a web of intrigue and deceit, must find a way to escape the traps set by the past and save their kingdom.

An epic fantasy, in miniature.

My review:

This novella is both beautiful and devastating. As soon as I finished reading it, I wanted to read more: more about Fran Wilde’s gemworld, more about gems calling to people, controlling them, seducing them even from the mines beneath the ground; more about the people listening and speaking to those gems, binding them in settings and chains. It’s that kind of story: the kind of fantasy tale that shows you a dazzling glimpse of a different world, and leaves you wanting more.

Fran Wilde builds her world skilfully and quickly, fitting a lot of world-building (with magic and a complex society), and invented history into a taut novella, keeping the tension high and the action moving. There’s a profound sense of loss and grief throughout the story that amplifies the tension: this is not a safe, comforting fantasy read, but it is extremely compelling.

Even more than the deep story and the intriguing world, what makes this story so great are the two main characters: Lin and Sima, royal Jewel and her Lapidary, two girls, bound by vows and magic, but also by something deeper than friendship. The way their relationship is revealed and explored, challenged and changed, is the true heart of this story for me.

In short: it’s so, so good.

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