The immortal lilka heal the wounds of a fractured world, but when the spirits of nature are silenced…
Thaniel Swift’s life is about to change. The inexperienced Wayfinder sets out on his first mission to explore the untamed wilds of Koranth. But when he joins a band of storied heroes to uncover the cause of an ominously deserted village, the hunt will lead Thaniel far from home, into the remnants of a long-forgotten civilization, and dangers beyond his dreams.
In the east, an ancient sorceress wields forbidden magic to attain the object of her obsession, no matter how much nature itself cries out in fear and pain. To achieve her desires, she will destroy not only the guardian spirits of the land, but the humans as well, leaving the continent of Koranth in desolation.
Thrown into the unpredictable wilderness, with growing talents he barely understands, Thaniel uses magic and skill to lead his new allies further into a dying land, seeking answers. Only with the wisdom of the lilka, and the aid of one of the enigmatic Builders, will Thaniel and his companions have any chance at all.
But will it be enough to stop the Queen of Dust?
Dreams of Dust is the first book in the Will of the Wayfinder series, a dark fantasy proposal by Lily Anne Crow. With a cover that caught my attention when I saw it for the first time on the SPFBO8 list, reading it was a matter of time; and honestly, I can't believe how this book doesn't have more attention, as it features a fantastical character-driven story, in a lush world and a really interesting approach to magic systems.
Thaniel is looking to see the world and go far from the city where he lives, so he has the opportunity of his life when he's contracted to join a group of seasoned adventures due to his abilities as a cartographer. Groups of workers have disappeared during the construction of a bridge, and the target of our adventures is to find what happened; soon we get to know that something wrong is happening and it's spreading.
Most of the plot is centered around how our adventures are following the trails left behind, having to solve several mysteries and puzzles, using mostly their logic and their magical powers. Crow manages to create interesting dynamics between the different characters, that evolve with the plot advancing; with time, Thaniel becomes one more of the group, slowly building his confidence and his skills. Found family is one of the recurrent themes in this book, as Thaniel left his family in the city, and ends being one more in our group of adventurers.
In our crew, each one of the characters is kinda unique, taking a role depending on their ability to use magic in one way or another; because soon we discover that while all the magic in this world is related to the use of crystals, not everybody practise it the same way. Emris, our curmudgeon Practicant, uses Incantations made with the voice and carved crystals; Zairin, a minstrel, uses an instrument to produce music and magic; and among some of the natives, the magic is practised with uncarved crystals, creating a wilder type of magic.
And let's talk a little bit about the main antagonist in this book, because it is still on mind. Without spoiling too much, because I feel discovering it is an integral part of the experience, Crow has created a character that despite being a villain, you can understand its motivations, and even empathize with it.
We learn a lot about the world, as the journey trope works marvels for this purpose. Erlahain is fully developed, with many races being part of it. We get to know about nature spirits, elk people, and tiny savages; without losing focus on some cities we visit during the whole story.
Dreams of Dust is a great character-driven story, a really enjoyable book that starts the Will of the Wayfinder series. Definitely if you like to explore big worlds while being on a journey with a crew, give it a try!
Lily Anne Crow
Lily Anne Crow is a storyteller of dark fantasy and epic fantasy tales, where you never know what lurks in the shadows, and almost anyone can rise to the rank of hero. She has been writing stories of the fantastic since she could hold a quill. Her debut novel, If Light Above, is the first in the series titled A War of Whispers.
Though Lily has been training young Magisters for fifteen years, she desires a change of scenery and is aiming to make story-telling a full-time occupation. She is a lover of all things wild and magical, from sweet wine to exotic beasts, and from starry skies to snowy mountain-tops.
When she’s not writing, Lily enjoys spending time with her closest people and her most beloved creatures, delving deep into nature, or discovering new parts of her fantasy world, Erlahain.