Razo hopped up and down, but he could see only backs of heads.
–Shannon Hale - River secrets - c.2006 pg. 1
At the end of Enna Burning was had come to an end, but, as in reality, that doesn’t mean it is the end of all hostility between nations. River Secrets begins with an attempt on both sides to figure out if peace is really possible. There is a lot of bad blood, Bayern has in the past inflicted a lot of damage on Tira, not to mention how the war ended. Tira believes that Bayern was once part of Tira and still should be. And there are war-mongers in both countries. So a diplomatic exchange is arranged, and heading off to Tira is a group that includes Enna, Finn, & Razo.
Razo has often served as almost comic relief in the other books in this ‘verse. Here he gets to star in his own right, and I for one am really glad that we, as readers, got this opportunity to really get to know him. And it is a wonderful journey, his realisation that he didn’t really know himself at all, that he couldn’t see his own talents and skills until some one with real perception pointed them out to him. And even then, he really isn’t sure about it at all.
I really love Hale’s style of writing. It is clear and simple, yet gets so much across. And I loved Razo so much in this book. I also really enjoyed the way the cultural differences between Tira and Bayern are so alien to Razo at the start, but gradually he comes to appreciate those very differences, illustrated mainly through his appreciation of their cuisine. This is Razo we are talking about after all.
And then there is the relationship between Enna and Finn. Although they are secondary characters in this novel we still get glimpses of how things are between them, and they aren’t all “happy ever after”, which is so very understandable given when Enna went through in Enna Burning.
This is my final read for this year’s Once Upon a Time challenge, and I’m glad to ending on such a high. Actually all the books I read this year were pretty good.