The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier
Saga Press: November 8, 2016
Source: Free from NetGalley
I’d go there again!
In the past few months, my life has been in a state of near-constant chaos, so when I’ve made time to read, I’ve been reading comfort books and nonfiction. This, my first foray back into new books, enthralled me. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning more than once because I couldn’t put it down. I read it during every free moment I had. My first book by Rachel Neumeier, it definitely won’t be my last.
In a medieval-esque world, one almost scientific technology is the key to saving the future. Princess Oressa learns about her own fate, which is intertwined with the future of her kingdom and the world, as she eavesdrops on her father’s council during a discussion about a pending invasion by the kingdom across the sea. She learns that she is to be offered in marriage to one of the detestable princes in order to resolve the conflict peacefully. Her small country cannot win against the armies of the other. Her father’s greatest weapon, a mythical creature called the Kieba, has withdrawn her support. It turns out that her father has stolen from the Kieba an ancient and powerful artifact of the dead gods, one that in mortal hands, can cause magical plagues.
To summarize, Oressa’s country is threatened by its neighboring countries, by the rift between the Kieba and her father, by a half-dozen godly artifacts, and by potential plagues. Oressa and her brother (the other narrator), Gulien, must find a way through the tangle to save their kingdom, their people, and even the world. No pressure. They find unexpected allies in the first invading prince. Despite all rumors to the contrary, he’s actually a pretty decent (and handsome, and clever) guy.
There are so many twists and turns in the plot, it will keep you on your toes. The intrigue and action kept me reading at a speedy pace throughout. There are so many little exciting moments that combine to make up the whole exciting plot.
Oressa is a fun heroine: clever, outspoken, determined, unpredictable. Gulien is an interesting hero: kind, smart, and loyal. They both know things about the other that only come from lifelong familiarity, and they squabble, but they always remain steadfastly loyal to each other. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for realistic, strong relationships between siblings.
The romantic relationship is minor, compared with the adventurous plot and relationship between Oressa and Gulien, and I wish it had been more prominent. In the end, though, it works out, and with all the other awesomeness in this book, well, it’s a small complaint.
Last thing: I loved that this was pretty light. There’s danger, and violence, and death, but it’s muted. Not explicit, not graphic, not pervasive, and most of the people are really good people. Or only mostly bad people, with some good in them. The villains mostly get what they deserve, including redemption.
Overall, The Mountain of Kept Memory is a light, fun, compelling fantasy adventure with a dash of romance that really works. Highly recommended. Start it on a weekend, you may not be able to put it down.
Crown Duel: YA Fantasy that has a similarly feisty, determined, outspoken heroine, light tone, and adventurous plot.
Sand of Bone: Also takes place in a desert world, where a daughter of the gods must fight for survival. The gods in this book are not dead and gone, but live and interfering in humans’ lives. Some treachery and untrustworthy people in the heroine’s family, and this time, the brother is not loyal or helpful, but a betrayer.
Archangel: The Kieba’s technology really reminded me of this series by Sharon Shinn. They’re dissimilar in a lot of ways, but if you found the Kieba fascinating, you may want to check these out. Also, there’s a little more romance in these, if that’s what you’re looking for.