The way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice
I want to tell a story. This story has many beginnings, like the great Wildwater that runs in a roaring rush through the narrow canyons and high peaks of the Old Everland, its voice loud with the knowing ways of unacountable years.
–Daniel Heath Justice - The way of Thorn and Thunder
Over a thousand years ago the first Human came to Everland. And that led to the Melding; the Human world crashed into the Folk world and out of the destruction both worlds were now joined. Ever since the Folk have suffered in various degrees. Their customs and ways looked down on by the humans, and the “unhumans” themselves regarded as less than human. And now the religion of the Celestials has led to many Wielders being driven from their homes and families. The purging of these led to Unahi leaving her home. But now she is summoned back, for her niece has been “awakened”, the power of the wyr is in her and without guidance she will surely die.
Originally published as three separate books, this is a long story. And, for my taste, a bit too long. The opening chapter or two is good, but then it starts to drag, and there are a lot of different Folk, who all look differently and have different cultures. So there is lots to get to grips with.
And to be honest the story goes one and on for ages. It was very long winded.
I can appreciate the that Heath Justice wants to raise plenty of issues, and he does touch on a lot, from colonialism to the “noble savage”, to gender and power balances. But I always think that if you want to raise issues and put forward a message in a book you have to make sure that the story and characters are well written and gripping. To me, as a reader, I have no objection to a story having a deeper meaning, I like it, but only if the story is a strong one. Otherwise it only comes across as preachy. And I’m afraid that in cases this book fell prey to that. I also didn’t like the way the Kyn are presented as having a perfect life and society before the Melding. It is a nice idea, but I don’t believe any society, Human or otherwise, has no problems and issues. And if, as I believe, Heath Justice is using the Folk to stand in for the Native Americans then in a way, by making them so perfect until their corruption, he is recreating a version of the “noble savage”.
So, it didn’t quite work for me.