Part of what I love about fantasy is the ability to explore new worlds without ever leaving my house. In the case of Trine Rising by C.K. Donnelly, I was absolutely enthralled by the world that was created; it was vivid, well-crafted and featured a conlang that had me eagerly working out its pieces.
1. Thoughts on the plot
This book is something between a coming-of-age piece and an epic fantasy. I suppose it would be YA fantasy, but it felt deeper than a lot of YA that I’ve read recently. The basic premise is that there is a prophecy stating that two trines, or people who controlled all three magical Aspects rather than just one, would appear: a dark and light trine. The whole of Kinderra would then be at their mercy, destroyed and then rebuilt. The only problem is, Mirana is a trine and her visions have told her that such a thing does not necessarily bode well.
This book had two particular styles of plot advancement that I liked quite well. The first is the action, the events that require Mirana to make a decision. They are increasingly pressing, and tie up a good deal of the characters, as well as force the second mode of plot advancement: the character development. The characters must make decisions, move forwards with their lives, and face the consequences of previous actions before things get worse or things will, ah, get…worse. Much worse. I liked the intertwining of the plot-based and character-based writing styles and think it works exceptionally well.
2. Thoughts on the main character
Mirana is not your typical YA hero. For one, she seems to act on her dislike of her powers in a rational manner. Instead of just rejecting her place in the world out of hand, as I have seen in many YA pieces, she has a reason for doing precisely that. She is perhaps more rational than you would expect, but she also has emotions driving her to move. These two pieces are at war, which makes for a very interesting piece of conflict. I especially like the scene in the library, as well as the climactic piece towards the end, where her decision is made.
3. Favourite part
I cannot really say a whole lot about my favourite bit, because spoilers, but I can say that the ending, where Mirana’s mentor is musing on things…and the fantastic plot twist that reveals…cue sharp intake of breath as I gasped in surprise. Stunning.
Oddly, as I love linguistics, the main critique I have has to do with the naming conventions. Not in any structural way, or for any dislike of the conlang (actually, I loved it), but the way that they were interspersed throughout the novel. This mostly is to do with who people are and where they are from. These things are quite intricate, which makes sense because there is a great deal of political machinations behind the dramatic plot. I haven’t got a problem with that. But I would have loved just a touch more explanation of where these people were from—describe the setting of their homeland or province—so I wouldn’t have to flip back to the map every few pages. With an ebook that was difficult to do. It honestly isn’t a huge thing at all, just enough directions and places that my directionally/geographically challenged brain had a hard time keeping up, especially since I was trying to dissect the names as they were constructed.
Overall, I would say that Trine Rising is a fantastic first book in a series. It has a fun plot, great characters, a plot twist that had me smiling, and a conlang phrase at the top of the chapters, which was pretty great. If you are looking for a book into which you can immerse yourself, this is the one for you. A very good book!