Reiffen's Choice: Book One of the Stoneways Trilogy by S. C. Butler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Reiffen is a young boy living in partial exile. He is the true heir to the throne, but because of an attack by powerful magician's before his parents' marriage could be formally akcnowledged, there is a question on his claim. The doubt allowed his uncle to usurp the throne. His mother has raised Reiffen to one day claim the throne as his own. She is preparing to take him to the capital to challenge his uncle when Reiffen is kidnapped by agents of the Three, the only remaining Wizards in the land, who have plans of their own for domination of the world they live in. Reiffen's two best friends, as well as a Dwarf and a shapeshifter who is most comfortable as a bear, set out on a secret mission to reacue him.
This was an enjoyable book. I was a bit confused at first, because the story seems to be more about Avender, Reiffen's best friend, than about Reiffen himself, and I wondered about the title. But it is resolved well in the end, and I put the book down with more "Ah, ok, so that's what it meant" than "So, why is it called that?"
The story moves along pretty quickly once the rescue party sets out, and is not held back by the long trek through underground caves and tunnels they must make. There's enough action and the pacing is good so it does not get really boring. The point of view does shift to Reiffen at times, so we don't lose sight of him and what is happening to him.
The world is fairly well drawn, and the culture and lives of the Dwarves is interesting, if a bit short changed, in my opinion. I would have liked to know more about them, although I must admit that might have held the story back a bit.
Characters are interesting and well-drawn. The Dwarves are solid and stable, with a sensitivity to stone that borders on magic, although in this world, true magic has no effect on them. The children are brave and at times heroic, which is to be expected, but are not above real fear and doubts that keep them truer to their ages than some books I've read. The shapeshifter, Redburr, provides some truly funny scenes.
This is the first book in the series, and it left me wondering what the consequences of Reiffen's Choice will be. I guess I will have to read the others to find out.
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