Initiate (The Unfinished Song, #1) by Tara Maya

Initiate - Tara Maya

First of the six pack I wrote about earlier, and I really enjoyed this, but it had some very small issues, so it's 3.5 for now, but I suspect as a series that is going to go up.


This is a very unique world, and I don't mean it's subtly different from everything else, I mean it's really out there on it's own. It reads like a legend from a culture that is both familiar and yet not. From the authors notes, she's based it on mixing a polynesian myth with native american and african cultural settings. Which sounds horrific, except it works. She also mentions her first draft was set in a typical high fantasy sword and sorcery setting and that it really was horrific, so kudos to her for daring to go really different.


We're in an effectively bronze age environment, cultivation is still new and some people can do magic through dancing. Here the fae still walk the land, and they are not friendly. The little pixie sized ones are mischief makers, and the big ones could eat you. And they dance too, wild dances, that tempt our young heroine terribly to run away and join them.


That heroine is Dindi, who is about to reach the age of initiation when we meet her: where she will find out if she is to be a magic-dancer and join their secret, sacred society, the Tavaedi. And if not, she must never dance again, because only the Tavaedi may dance. in a POV hop, we're also following Kavio, a powerful Tavaedi who is exiled from his home and wandering. Inevitably these two cross paths, although there is no romance in this book. Dindi is 13, btw, so no romance is a good thing - but if that age seems offputting, remember this is a bronze age, early agrarian society, she's quite mature, and it's a reasonable age to be having initiation rites in such a world.


As book one of 6 and counting, this one is heavy world building, but it's really beautifully done. No info dumps here, I was still learning things about the world quite naturally by the end of it, and I really love that when it's done well. However, apart from the two main characters, there's a third POV that shows up now and then and is an antagonist except when he's not, and even a fourth who exists in visions that Dindi occasionally has, although she actually did exist for real 20 years ago.  And if that sounds a little confusing, it is, so I knocked off a half star for that, although it was sorting itself out by the end of the book.


Also, cliffhanger ending, multiple books to come, and it's not finished yet. If any of that bothers you, don't start this. But I really enjoyed it, and will likely pick up at least the next couple in the series.