Torn

Rowenna Miller. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-316-47862-5
Miller’s disappointing fantasy debut, first of a series, sets an initially promising scene but doesn’t live up to it. Sophie Balstrade, a young business owner in class-stratified Galitha, must choose whether and how much to support her brother, Kristos, who heads a rapidly growing movement of the working poor. Sophie is reluctant to rock any boats for fear of losing the business that provides for her and Kristos—especially since she is a charmcaster as well as a dressmaker, and her magic is unusual in Galitha. The different factions, ethnicities, and background details of life are clearly and carefully portrayed, and Kristos and Sophie are vibrant characters. However, the evenhanded treatment of class issues soon tips decidedly toward the nobility. The nobles seen on the page are all well developed as characters, genuinely hardworking, and devoted to everyone’s best interests, while the leaders of the democracy movement are cardboard-cutout villains. The humanity of Sophie’s romance plot (with a noble in line for the throne) is a bright spot, but readers excited by the thought of a fantasy novel about class struggle may be disappointed by this story’s implicit lean toward monarchism and apparent distaste for the messiness of revolution. Agent: Jessica Sinsheimer, Sarah Jane Freymann Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/12/2018
Release date: 03/20/2018
Genre: Fiction
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