The Sundering by Ruthanne Reid
Review by Jasper de Joode
Harry Iskinder knows the rules. Don’t touch the water, or it will pull you under. Conserve food, because there’s no arable land. Use Sundered slaves gently, or they die too quickly to be worthwhile. With extinction on the horizon and a world lost to deadly flood, Harry searches for a cure: the Hope of Humanity, the mysterious artefact that gave humans control over the Sundered centuries ago. According to legend, the Hope can fix the planet. But the Hope holds more secrets than Harry knows. Powerful Sundered Ones willingly bow to him just to get near it. Ambitious enemies pursue him, sure that the Hope is a weapon. Friends turn their backs, afraid Harry will choose wrong. And Harry has a choice to make. The time for sharing the Earth is done. Either the Sundered survive and humanity ends, or humanity lives for a while, but the Sundered are wiped out. He never wanted this choice. He still has to make it. In his broken, flooded world, Hope comes with a price.
A most interesting feature which caught my attention early on in The Sundering is the combination of being introduced to the flooded world and the way the story is told from Harry’s perspective using a first person narration. This worked wonders in portraying the devastated and flooded world.
The introduction to The Sundering was quite nicely done, in the first few chapters Harry and his band of Travelers have an encounter with a Sundered One. In this encounter I got the feeling that there was much more to The Sundered Ones, with the different Tiers (Tiers being the levels of intelligence and abilities that a Sundered One has). The Sundered Ones are slaves but they are possessed using mind link, which was quite nicely used throughout the whole book. Although I must say that I first found the significance of the Sundered Ones a bit obscure as the story progressed everything became much clearer. One element that did remain obscure, and of which I have not been understand their significance, are the Travelers that accompany Harry on his search. As I see it they are more or less a burden for him, since he has to expend much effort on them, on more than one occasion, to save them.
Harry is a nice character with a rich history, which even he questions on more than one occasion. Like his predecessors, Harry is also on the search for The Hope of Humanity. In his search, as he traverses the world, certain pieces of the puzzle finally become clear for him. The Sundered Ones are a very cool concept and, as they are described, they feel a bit like (I’m sorry) pokemon! (in a good way, I’m serious). They are otherworldly creatures, frog-like, mouse-like, lizard-like or even have certain human aspects. With each having their own Tier level and thus abilities added certain limitations to each Sundered One and gave a feeling that each human controlling a Sundered One cannot just do bold action. Tier levels reflect in strength, dexterity and intelligence, among others. Even in the short descriptions of the characters I got a clear picture of the personalities of each. And I must admit that it felt just right in the storyline. If there was a deeper explanation of each character I think the story would have strayed too far.
Another great thing about The Sundering is the plot line, in the beginning it was clear that Harry is on the search for the Hope. But where and what it is exactly is is not clear to him. In his search he finds his old tutor and this is where the story takes off. Here Reid introduces another layer about the history of Harry and the planet they live on. But what really got my enthusiasm up were the last few chapters when everything became clear regarding the true history of Harry’s lineage! Although looking back some might say it is not original and too simplistic, it again fitted excellently into the story and was for me a nice closure.
There was also another part of the book that I found – next to the Traveler’s concept – a bit lacking in explanation was the part in which Harry has to produce an heir. I didn’t feel that was in relation to the main storyline. In the chapters leading up to it there was a small reference to it but there was no follow-up in the later chapters. For me it would have been better left out.
All in all, The Sundering was a nice read with a cool concept and plot, a simple and easy read. I hope that Reid will further her character and plot development in the books to come as this would make her stories even more compelling.
I’d like to thank Ruthanne Reid for providing me with a review copy.
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