On an island ruled by female warriors, Tevi is the eldest daughter of Red and next in line to rule her people. A less than capable warrior, she is ridiculed by all the women of Storenseg, including her own family. Believing her incompetent to succeed to the throne, she is tricked by those closest to her and outed for her love of a woman. Forced into exile under the guise of undertaking an impossible quest to recover a stolen chalice, she heads out into an unfamiliar world, betrayed and alone.
Jemeryl is a Protectorate sorcerer, assigned to protect the citizens of a remote valley. Antisocial and awkward amongst the ungifted, her attempts to aid the villagers are continuously misconstrued resulting in her acquiring a somewhat malevolent reputation. Mired in her research and avoiding her responsibilities, she is unaware of the danger suddenly terrorizing the people she should be protecting. Called out for her lack of attention by her superiors, she is ordered to accompany Tevi on her quest.
Destiny (and a few meddling sorcerers) draws the two women together and they discover that Tevi’s impossible quest has far greater implications than anyone imagined.
I felt an immediate connection to Tevi. When we first meet her, she is brimming with an awkwardness and self-doubt that I find all too relatable. She is the quintessential example of an outsider, not conforming to any of the desired criteria coveted by her people, especially for one in line to be Queen. Tevi is a clumsy warrior and avoids partaking in the frequent carnal, heterosexual pleasures the other women enjoy. Brought up to believe homosexuality is wrong, she struggles with her attraction to women and is ultimately exiled when she is betrayed and outed by her own family. Her story is heartbreaking and a little painful to read if you have ever felt as though you don’t belong or measure up to the expectations placed upon you. However, her struggle really induces empathy and drove my desire to see her overcome these indoctrinated beliefs and prove her detractors wrong.
Jemeryl is an equally engaging character, flawed yet understandably so. A consummate loner, her life is spent researching and experimenting with magic in the solitude of her castle, faring much better with books and beakers than with other people. The sorcerer is aloof and condescending when dealing with the ungifted which is initially off-putting. However, this behaviour is a conditioned response to the fear and loathing she has faced from them since her magical abilities manifested. Knowing this about her past makes her character much more amiable.
Their relationship is only just beginning in this book, but the chemistry between Tevi and Jemeryl is undeniable.
The Writing Style
For a quest narrative, this book is not an overly fast paced read (we haven’t even met the villain yet!) but I certainly did not find it boring. The focus is more on developing the world, introducing the characters and establishing their chemistry. It perfectly sets the stage for the rest of the series. In fact, by the end of this novel I was so invested in Tevi and Jemeryl that I was clamouring to pick up the sequels. I confess, I ended up reading the entire series in a single weekend.
Everything is so well fleshed out in terms of the history, geography and even the politics of Tevi and Jemeryl’s world that you really feel like you’re immersed in the story. Combine this extraordinary world building with the incredible character development and this book is impossible to put down. While Fletcher periodically delves into some serious topics, the overall feeling is one of pure and pleasurable entertainment.
The storyline is not yet brimming with action. I found this to be the perfect introduction to the rest of the series, but if you are looking for epic battles you will have to read on. Which you should really do, the entire series is amazing.
I became so immersed in the characters and world Fletcher has created that it pained me to leave. I felt more than a little sad the story was over when I finished the series. If you are in the mood to get away for a bit, this series is escapism at its finest and this book is the perfect introduction.
Excerpt from The Exile and the Sorcerer by Jane Fletcher
“What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to go,” the Queen said firmly.
“Anywhere. The farther, the better.”
“You’re exiling me.”
“In effect, yes. To do it officially would give free reign to the rumourmongers, so I want you to appear to go of your own accord. The feast tonight will provide a suitable audience. I want you to put on an act, like Brec did just now. Make a scene. Say the theft of the chalice is an insult to our family, and you can no longer sit back and do nothing. Swear that you’re going in search of Abrak’s chalice and won’t return until you find it.”
“But nobody knows where the chalice is.”
“So nobody will be surprised when you don’t come back.”
“And if I refuse?”
“I’ll have to think of something else. Maybe frame one of the women from Rathshorn for your murder. It might work in our favour, but it would be a very high-risk plan. Much better for you to disappear on a heroic quest. It’s romantic and will make for some good songs. But one way or another, I’ll make sure you don’t disgrace the family.” Steel had crept into the Queen’s voice.
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The Exile and the Sorcerer
The Traitor and the Chalice
The Empress and the Acolyte
The High Priest and the Idol
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781933110325
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Jane Fletcher Online
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