In this fantasy novel, war is going on between the Union of the North and the Elda. Two young girls work independently of each other to further the success of the Union effort. Revna, who is considered defective and inferior because of her two prosthetic feet, serves at a munitions factory working with “living metal” to fashion armaments for the military. She lives with her mother and sister in Tammin Reaching, while her father, who fashioned her prosthetic limbs from illegally stolen scrap metal, is imprisoned for being an enemy of the people. Linne, the daughter of General Alexei Zolonov, Second Commander of all land units in the Union armed forces, has, unbeknownst to him, been serving for three years under an assumed name and disguised as a male soldier, but she has been discovered and is awaiting disciplinary action.
Two kinds of magic are at work in this world. Spark magic energizes the world; weave magic aligns the world like threads on a loom, keeping it in shape. Revna uses spark magic in her assembly line job but is also adept at using weave magic, though it is dangerous, unlawful and forbidden because it distorts the fabric of the universe. Weave magicians are considered evil. She keeps her ability under wraps until the day the Elda bomb Tammin Reaching, and, in a desperate scramble to save herself and a Skarov officer next to her, she grabs hold of Weave threads to pull them out of danger.
Both Revna and Linne are seriously in trouble–Revna facing imprisonment like her father, Linne facing the wrath of the General and an uncertain return to conventional life as a woman. Both are offered reprieve. They are recruited to join a small, newly formed women-only group of pilots, navigators and engineers that will fly into Elda territory, scouting sites and strategically bombing targets. With no incentive to turn down the offer, both girls accept and begin training. As the group coalesces and bonds, they face the usual obstacles to success–male skepticism and contempt, inferior equipment and support, self-doubts, personality conflicts, the questioning of rules, and the morality of war actions.
This is a well-written book with an interesting premise, though it does remind me of an old “Star Trek Next Generation” episode about the use of warp drive damaging the fabric of the universe. The characters face complex dilemmas, and their choices are not easy. There is, of course, war violence. Offensive language is present. (Curiously to me, the frequent use of f*** and its various forms seems out of sync with the other-worldly nature of the narrative.) There are a few mild sexual references but nothing really to remark on. Fantasy readers should enjoy this one.
Categories: Body Acceptance, Bullying, Civil Rights, Death and Grieving, Differently Abled, Diversity, Dystopian Societies, Fantasy, Grief, LGBTQIA, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Political Activism, Science Fiction, Social Disorders, Violence