Book Review: Bound (Mirrors of Bershan #1) by J. Elizabeth Hill
Title: Bound ( Mirrors of Bershan #1)
Author: J. Elizabeth Hill
Page Count: 377
“Doesn’t she know you can’t do real magic alone?”
Freshly graduated from the Voleno Academy, Faylanna Derrion is trying to find her solitary place in a world where she and her fellow Magicia are expected to find their magical partner as soon as possible. When her mentor and his partner are taken by a terrible darkness before her eyes, her flight to find help brings Tavis into her life. Can she learn to see him as more than a simple farmer or will she accede to her father’s demands to return to her family’s home, following a path others have laid out for her? Can she choose her own course, after a lifetime of refusing to bind herself to anyone?
I can’t remember the last time I read such a character-driven fantasy novel. There’s definitely a plot, of course, and there is a lot of suspense, especially once you hit the last third of the novel, but it’s the characters that really kept me reading. The characters make mistakes sometimes (in some cases a lot of the time), but they’re realistic, and most of them mean well. Even the side characters, which are often two-dimensional, had developed backstories and traits that made them more interesting to read about. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters.
I also liked how the characters themselves created a lot of the drama and suspense. Some novels focus on huge plot devices to keep the readers guessing; Hill uses the characters’ emotions a lot of the time. A character will say something that sounds completely innocent/normal, but they’ll say it with fear or some other emotion they don’t normally show, and then I’m intrigued in a much more interesting way that I would have been if if an event had taken place. That’s not to say, though, that there aren’t suspenseful events, as well, because there are. I just think that this novel particularly shines when it’s dealing with characters and their reactions to things.
I was a bit afraid of the dueling love interests in this novel, but this is one of the few novels I’ve read where the conflicting emotions make sense. There’s a lot of magic involved, and many of the things that sort of bothered me as I was reading made more sense at the end of the novel, which was nice. I still think that Fay and Tavis’s relationship progressed a bit more quickly than really made sense to me, but I will attribute a good deal of that to the society they live in and all the magic that goes along with that.
The magic was another thing that I enjoyed reading about. There didn’t seem to be particular spells, or at least not spells with names and wand waving and things like that. The magic is more natural, almost. It’s still something that has to be taught, of course, but it’s more subtle than the magic I’ve seen in a lot of other books, which was definitely interesting.
The only thing that really bothered me about this novel was the editing. Some of the things that bothered me were things that I’m sure wouldn’t bother most other people (after all, I did read through several of the Harry Potter books with a pencil in my hand, fixing all of the misplaced commas and adding semicolons where I felt they should have gone). That said, there were a few instances where a word was missing or where the punctuation was clearly wrong, and that took me out of the story a little.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this novel. I loved getting to know Faylanna and Tavis and all of the other characters, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to them. I eagerly await the next installment in the trilogy.