Tanya Huff is a well-known author in the speculative fiction community. While she’s best known for her Blood series, which was later adapted for television under the title Blood Ties, her other works span from epic fantasy to space-age military science fiction. The Silvered is her most recent release.
Aydori is a small country that used to be separated from a massive empire by two duchies. Problem is, that empire just gobbled up those duchies in record time and is now camped on Aydori’s border. While the empire bases its society on science from the age of the industrial revolution, Aydori is protected by classes of shapeshifters and elemental mages. Under the cover of invasion, the Emperor sends a small, elite team of men to kidnap six mages and bring them to his capital. Except Mirian Maylin, the sixth mage, has no intention of sitting on her hands, and eludes capture with the help of shapeshifter Tomas Hagen. Together, they set out to rescue the other five mages from the clutches of a mad emperor.
A richly built tale
Tanya Huff has been publishing full length novels since 1988. She knows not only how to world build, but how to build magic systems and do phenomenal characterizations. Her experience shows on every page of The Silvered. Aydori and its neighbors have a steampunk inspired feel, even if technology is the purview of the protagonist’s enemies. Society has a very Victorian feel to its etiquette, both in Aydori and in the empire. Not only are the characters fully fleshed out, but they fully interact with their world on a level that many authors doen’t use. Mirian isn’t let to go wandering across an empire without having narrow escapes, dirty clothes, and blistered feet. She has to steal fresh clothing, find ways to blend into the changing lands around her, and constantly strategize. She’s mired in the realities of her world, and this really makes the story live and breathe. The system of magic Mirian uses seems like it’s not a thoroughly plotted system a la Sanderson once you really get going. But don’t be fooled, the magic is more complicated than most mages know, and there are consequences for breaking the rules in the way Mirian does. I love the fact that here is a magic system where you can break the rules, yet the magic still works and doesn’t just fizzle or go boom. The consequences are more subtle, and perhaps pricier, than that.
A word of warning
Do not expect to be able to do anything else while reading this book. The Silvered really got into my head and refused to let go. The back and forth banter between Mirian and Tomas is believable and endearing. The time spent from the point of view of Danika Hagen, one of the captured mages, and Captain Reiter, one of the men sent to capture Mirian, are well spent, informative, and also entertaining. I never wanted to put this book down, and I stayed fully invested in the story from start to finish. Unfortunately, it’s also a standalone book. If Huff ever decides to write a sequel, it will likely land on my most-anticipated list.
Why you should read this book?
Books this good don’t come along that often. The Silvered is a well-planned, well executed adventure tale. I loved it. Completely. I can’t think of a single reason why you shouldn’t or even might not want to read this book.