River Secrets by Shannon Hale
Copyright 2006, Bloomsbury Publishing
290 pages, YA fantasy
Although the war with neighboring country Tira is over, the country of Bayern doesn’t like the uneasy peace. Razo, a poor young man who’s seemingly only talents are slinging, eating, and telling jokes, is chosen to be a gaurd of a Bayern ambassador going to Tira. Along with friends Enna, Finn, and other Bayern soldiers, Razo begins an unforgettable adventure.
You know how third books in a series of four or five can be rather awkward and tedious? They aren’t quite the climax, aren’t quite the end of a story, but are definately not the beginning. Shannon Hale works River Secrets seamlessly into the Books of Bayern series. She carries events from the previous books in, and throws in plenty of lead-ins for the next book in the series, Forest Born. Almost immediately after finishing, I sprinted to my computer to request Book Four from my local library system. As with all of Hale’s stories, Secrets is enchanting, romantic, and suspenseful.
I thought that having minor character Razo star would make for a not-so-good story. Razo seemed to me, through the first installments in the series, an annoying little brother, playing pranks and inturrupting at the wrong times. River Secrets showed me a whole new demension of Razo, and suddenly these qualities became assets. That’s the magic of good writing.
In the story, Razo seemed such a vulnerable, easy target. A Tiran soldier who took an instant dislike to him was always bullying him. This made me pretty angry at Shannon Hale: How could she do this to poor Razo? Isn’t getting beaten up once enough? I thought Hale overdid that a bit, and that’s not even counting all of those betrayels and killings. I must say it added to the suspense, but still.
Rating: 4/5 stars.
Visit Shannon Hale’s website at http://shannonhale.com.