I will forever curse the fates for not giving time to finish this in one sitting. This is a world you’ll want to sink into, and only come out for the direst of emergencies.
A young prince is learning his lessons well in the Eight provinces- when he can’t get out of them. Joshan is no different than any other boy. He’d rather wrestle and learn to fight than study, but study he must. Because he actually is different then any other boy; he has magic as well as noble blood.
Trenara is a magician known as a “starguider” who has been given the assignment to teach the prince in the ways of magic. Even though she is feeling her years, she is still dedicated to training Joshan to manhood. Through dreams, she knows something is wrong in the land, and something big is coming. But she couldn’t guess that her young charge is at the heart of it. She tries to guide and protect him as best she can while he goes through his first trial- a bestowing of power and ability that should be far too much for him, given far too early. The gods decide these things. They awaken from the ordeal to find the boy not only imbued with power, but aged eight to ten years.
A young man literally overnight, Joshan returns to the city with Trenara to find his father dying, himself declared dead, and Trenara accused of treason and murder. And that’s just the first three chapters.
The book is very well paced, and the world building is exotic enough to be interesting but familiar enough that it isn’t intimidating. More characters are added as the story goes along, and they are all necessary to the tale; giants, soldiers, forest beings and mercenaries, and I found most intriguing, Trenara's true love. Go girl! Who said love could only come to the young? The story is peeled back in layers, digging deep, and doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.
Minnette has an alarmingly good grasp of politics; the treacherous waters of the provinces’ bureaucracy are well explored. She doesn’t, however, fall prey to long monologues or preachy dialogue. Strong characters, epic themes, and good action scenes have as much page time as the machinations in the halls of power.
Mostly told from Trenara’s point of view, I liked the interplay between her character and Joshan. The push/pull of teacher becoming subject as Joshan surpasses her felt parental in nature, and I understood her frustrations. I would have liked to see more from Joshan’s head; how would it feel to go from child with few worries to young man with the destiny to save the world in one night? But in keeping Joshan’s thoughts and actions secret until Trenara herself discovers them, I related to her in a more concrete way.
Though this isn’t a romance, specifically, it does have warm romantic moments. Nothing is graphic, and for that I’m glad. The story didn’t need any shock value. I love her magic; it comes through singing. As a singer myself, I have always thought the human voice held more magic than we’ve ever given it credit for.
The book doesn’t end, precisely. Starsight Volume II will carry on the tale, and I plan to make sure I have enough time to read it all at once.