Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas.
The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.
'Even the Darkest Stars' is the first in a new fantasy duology and is the debut novel of author Heather Fawcett. This book swept me away on a cloud of adventure and danger. I loved it!
I actually found the first few chapters quite slow and I wondered initially whether this was going to my kind of book. I was dubious about the characters and the plot and very nearly put it to one side. Thank goodness that I didn't because a couple of pages later and everything clicked into place. The action kicked up a notch and I was absorbed completely from that moment on. It was fabulously entertaining for the rest of the book.
The main character Kamzin, agrees to lead the Royal Explorer, River Shara, on an expedition to Raksha, a tall and deadly mountain. He is seeking a talisman that the Emperor has requested he retrieve. Kamsin was a fabulous character. She thrives on adventure and exploration and dreams of scaling new and undiscovered territory across the Empire. She can be hot-headed at times and doesn't like being told what to do, but she is incredibly loyal and won't back down from a challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed following her journey and I absolutely adored her Familiar, Ragtooth the fox.
The story was fast-paced and thrilling and there are lots of climactic moments in the book that have you on the edge of your seat. There is always some kind of danger or peril lying in the path of the characters that they must face and overcome. The book is quite light on romance, although there are hints of it between Kamzin and River and also between Kamzin and her best friend Tem. I'm quite glad that this took more of a back seat to the main plot as I think it may have distracted from the action otherwise.
The ending was brilliant and really twisted everything and turned it on its head. I still think there's more to it than first meets the eye but it has left me desperate for the next book in the series now. I don't always enjoy fantasy but I really, really loved 'Even the Darkest Stars'. I read it in one sitting on a wet, rainy Sunday where I ended up dreaming about wintery mountains and a dark and magnetising magic.