Book 4–there’s enough backstory woven in that you could start here, but you’d miss a lot of cool happenings. (The previous ones have smaller crises, and world building, character development, and backstory, and book 3 sets up this larger problem. This book is where things really begin to fall apart.)
The backstory: People have settled on another planet, and it’s not so friendly. There’s some dangerous weather, and deadly predators (many of them with psychic abilities to lure or confuse humans). Adjustments happen as best as possible–and up in the highlands, people adjust with protected domes, and packs of children hunting and gathering supplies with the protection of young psychic women who can read danger as it approaches. There’s a fascinating world system, richly detailed, and a well-developed culture (which is rather different from ours.) With a young protagonist, it’s an excellent read for younger readers, as well as adults.
Cheobawn Blackwind is now 10,more powerful than a bad luck Black Bead ought to be–and still defiant of the adults in control of her life. When she discovers how deep the plot behind her childhood runs, the future suddenly shifts. In all but one possible future, she dies–so she’ll have to face down impossible odds, or lose everything she holds dear. As you might imagine, this book is quite a wild ride. Secrets are revealed, harsh truths are told, and tough decisions are made. As always, the detailed (and harsh) landscape plays a big part, with eerily intelligent predators as characters in their own right. It’s tough for humans to survive against the odds, much less one with as chancy luck as Cheobawn.
Despite the protagonist’s age, this isn’t a simple story–it has some thoughtful things to say about family, political choices/ alliances, and doing what’s needed. Perhaps this is because the protagonist is close to grown by her culture’s views, or because she’s already shouldered a lot at her age. I really feel for Cheobawn, as she’s just one person facing difficult odds. Somehow, she finds it in her to keep trying, and that’s what makes me root for her the most. She isn’t sure of her success, and at times feels despair, but with a little help, she’s worked miracles before. And I sure hope she pulls out a miraculous last minute save again! The end of the book is a pause, the calm before the storm sweeps over the world again, and left me eager to see what’s coming next.
Highly recommended for fans of strong female protagonists, excellent world building, high tension action, and scary wildlife.