Every one hundred years a woman comes to Argenterra through the Crystal Tree Woods. This time two women came…
While on a ghost tour in Castle Crioch, Sophy and her best friend and foster sister, Aria, are sucked into the world of Argenterra, where they encounter a strange Crystal Tree. Two leaves fall from it, one of which Aria catches and the other mysteriously delves into Sophy’s chest.
Met by Dellbright, the prince of Valley Keep, and Oakheart, the high king’s ambassador, the girls learn they are expected. Aria has beauty and talent with the given, the land’s native magic. She finds a home and a husband in Prince Dellbright and is revered as the legendary Gift of Crystal Tree Woods.
Sophy is out of place as anything made with the given makes her ill.
Sophy accompanies Oakheart to the capital to find out why the crystal leaf is in her chest. A sinister force is tracking her—trying to snatch her away or kill her. Only Oakheart suspects her importance: she is the talisman that can cause great harm to the world of Argenterra if she falls into the wrong hands.
Argenterra is the first in Donna Maree Hanson's new series, Silverlands. It brings an alternate fantasy world which is both unforgiving in its beauty and pure in its treachery and dangers together with a solid friendship story as we follow Sophy and Aria through their combined and individual challenges with their new lives in Argenterra.
Argenterra's magic, the given, permeates everyone and everything in the land. It's used in everything from building and cooking to healing and holding the people to their oaths. I liked how the given not only weaves through the lives of the characters but through the story itself. The given has its own history, champions and enemies. The given lives through the story as a character in its own right, complete with unique relationships with other characters and a life changing challenge.
For me, characters and their fellowships (among other things) bring Argenterra to life.
I appreciated and felt how close Sophy and Aria were. It didn't matter what else was going on, I could always count on solid affection and support between the two. *Sucker for buddy stories here* There relationship was well put together and supported and left me genuinely anxious when they weren't together.
My favourite character, besides Sophy/Aria, is Oakheart (in spite of my Kindle text to speech calling him Oh-Eckhart, silly Kindle.) As much as Dellbright came off as too good to be true (which he was), Oakheart is *that good.* For me, he is the pure hero of Argenterra.
I also liked how each castle and land was distinct and appreciated the care Hanson took hi-lighting both their faults and reasons to shine. Loved the forest people and Lillia and the screavers (scary, scary, scary.)
Hanson reveals Argenterra to us through her characters' experiences, particularly those of Sophy and Aria which I enjoyed because I felt like I experienced Argenterrra first hand through their adventure.
And I'm very grateful for the sample of book two, The Crystal Gate. Not only did it reassure and soothe my delicious worry at the end of book one, it also twisted my engagement to the story up several notches and I'm very eager to move in to book two.
You can also read my interview with Donna Maree Hanson here. I also recommend her dark fantasy Dragonwine series, Shatterwing and Skywatcher and her fun science fiction Rayessa and the Space Pirates.