After killing a paladin in revenge for her family, Squire Bryn is cast out of the order of the god Avgorath himself. Now she seeks atonement with the father of the dead paladin. But machinations far greater than a disgraced squire are at play. Unicorn riders – believed to be only legend – ride through the land. A young sorcerer needs help in finding his father, and a mystery brews that could hold the fate of two worlds. Will hatred prove stronger than the need to preserve a crumbling world?
I went into this book with few expectations. It was a fantasy about a girl seeking atonement. That is all I knew. I did not expect to get swept away in a sprawling world with slow-burn world-building or magical prose. This story took me on an adventure, and I loved it. This book felt like I’d gotten caught up in some Skyrim quest, exploring the land and setting undead skeletons on fire and helping townsfolk. It had a very classic feel to it.
And oh, the prose! This book made me feel the wind in my hair and the grass under my feet, without every leaving the comfort of the indoors. It painted the scenery with a masterful hand, and as a writer, I took notes. I wish I’d gotten the kindle edition so I could have highlighted. (I’m not so much a heathen as to take a highlighter to a paper copy.) But Melion did an amazing job at painting this fantastic world of ruins and mystery and medieval workings.
I also enjoyed the fight scenes. I generally skim over fight scenes in books because they bore me, because it gets so technical and I don’t care, but Exile didn’t do that. The fight scenes had a purpose other than to be a fight scene. They furthered the plot and/or character development.
The purpose of the exile was for Bryn and Eckard to atone for what they’d done. And they do. The path they take to get there feels so natural. Everything that happens is another brick in their building atonement, and it happens gradually amid self-doubt and backtracking, which is what made it feel normal. The paths the characters take felt realistic.
I also enjoyed the faith aspect throughout the book. Bryn stuck to her faith in her god and never wavered. In moments of darkness, she sought out her faith to steady herself. It’s rare anymore to see fictional characters calling on their faith for spiritual steadiness. It seems as though more and more authors are writing characters than turn away from their faith, and it is refreshing to see a character who does the opposite.
Exile by Melion Traverse gets a shield-smashing 5 out of 5 from me. It highly recommend it anyone that enjoys a refreshing and adventurous fantasy.