I received this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review.
Never’s story gains another chapter in his journey of discovery, and change: after the massive revelations of the last two installments, which saw not only Never’s unexpected transformation but also his disillusionment and grief, our hero embarks on a new quest in the search of a sister whose existence he did not suspect until recently, and in so doing takes us to a remote part of the world that is quite different from his usual stomping grounds.
Kiymako is an island far away from the mainland where Never’s previous adventures took place, and it has a decidedly far-Eastern flavor, both in environment and culture: from the plains and mountain ranges of old we are taken to a lush jungle-like territory, where bamboo and rice paddies share space with tropical forests. Thanks to their isolation, the inhabitants have developed a very different culture, one more geared toward mysticism and a heightened sense of spirituality, as testified by the temples dotting the island and the great number of monks that seem to present in every settlement.
This does not mean that our hero faces an easy task, because he soon discovers that the place is rife with plots within plots and that power games are being played at any latitude: as he starts to inquire on the whereabouts of the young woman to whom he might be related, Never must guard his back carefully and be even more wary than usual. Thankfully though, he also manages to make some friends, something that seems to be his true advantage in any situation: for a man who has always lived alone and counted only on himself, he has this uncanny ability to engender friendship and loyalty in the decent people he meets, so that his quest is facilitated by some much-needed allies.
As I have come to expect by now, Never’s search is a long theory of discoveries that lead to puzzles to be solved, which in turn help him unearth some new clue that will guide his steps forward: this kind of storytelling will certainly appeal to readers who also enjoy playing games because, as I have noted before, the narrative looks like a series of levels of increased difficulty to be unlocked before Never can move to the next challenge. Unlike previous stories in his journey, though, there is a difference here: due to the sometimes unpleasant truths he finds, Never becomes progressively disillusioned with his origins, understanding as he does that he, his late brother and now his newfound sister were nothing more than pawns in their father’s far-reaching plans. And it’s for this very reason that his encounter with innocent Ayuni gives him hope for a better future, and for a family tie that is finally free of ulterior motives.
Unfortunately, the name our protagonist goes under seems to determine his fate and never looks like the final word for every one of his goals, as he’s forced to continue in his quest for the heritage that gave him great powers, but also – as the saying goes – great responsibilities, and also exposes him and all those of his blood to great dangers.
And so the adventures go on…
The Phoenix of Kiymako will be published next June: if you want to get up to date with Never’s previous journeys, HERE is a complete list of the titles.