When the Dragon Ships began to tear through the trade lanes and ravage coastal towns, the hopes of the archipelago turned to the Windspeakers on Tash. The solemn weather-shapers with their eyes of stone can steal the breeze from raiders’ sails and save the islands from their wrath. But the Windspeakers’ magic has been stolen, and only their young apprentice Shina can bring their power back and save her people.
Tazir has seen more than her share of storms and pirates in her many years as captain, and she’s not much interested in getting involved in the affairs of Windspeakers and Dragon Ships. Shina’s caught her eye, but that might not be enough to convince the grizzled sailor to risk her ship, her crew, and her neck. (synopsis from Goodreads)
I was fascinated at how well this world and the characters came together in such a small amount of pages. Emily Foster is a pro at giving us a clear idea of how this new world works without taking up multiple pages in explanation. Coming out of this book, I felt that I had a good understanding of this world, which is something that honestly surprised me.
This was also the case with her characters. I actually became rather attached Tazir by the end of the book. Tazir, while tough and rather prickly on the outside, has a soft, vulnerable side that is seen by very few people. Very fitting for the captain of a ship. It also seems like Tazir has a really fascinating backstory which is alluded to a few times throughout the book. It did leave me wanting to know more about her, but alas, novellas are quite short. However, I believe that the details Foster reveals are just enough for us to get an idea of what kind of person Tazir is, so this was masterfully done.
The magic system in this book is rather interesting. I’m always drawn to weather magic. It just seems so intense and difficult that I can’t help but admire the characters that do it well. Shina is a Windspeaker apprentice given the difficult task of restoring power back to the Windspeakers after it had been stolen. Under the guise of a young woman escaping an undesirable marriage, Shina manages to convince Tazir to bring her on as a passenger. (The huge amount of money she offers doesn’t hurt.) Tazir knows that Shina is lying but what’s a captain to do when that much money is on the table?
It’s not until later that Tazir and some of the crew realize what Shina is, which leads to the most interesting conflict in the book. There are certain rituals the Windspeakers have that Tazir finds impossible to understand. Tazir, being a free-spirited, don’t-mess-with-me badass can’t fathom why someone would give up so much just be—in her mind—controlled for their whole lives. There are multiple scenes in which Tazir tries to convince Shina that the ways of the Windspeakers are wrong. These are some of the best scenes in the book. Of course, I’m also a sucker for this kind of conflict.
A part of me really wanted this book to be longer. I was totally immersed in the world and was becoming rather attached to these characters. It was difficult to let go at the end. At the same time, that’s probably an indication of how well Foster wrote this novella. While I wanted it to be longer, it didn’t have to be longer. It accomplished what it needed to and was a fun read and exciting read. I’m looking forward to more work from Emily Foster.