Initiate is the first book of a new series, The Unfinished Song, by Tara Maya. As such, there are a few things I feel that you should know up front. First, if cliffhangers piss you off, be sure you have the second book, Taboo (which was just recently released), ready to dive into once you're finished Initiate. I wasn't bothered because I pretty much knew what I was getting into right off the bat but the Amazon description doesn't much give the cliffhanger impression to potential readers so I'm just giving you all a heads up.
Also, this is VERY much an Epic Fantasy. While I feel one of the book's strong points is Tara's exceptional dedication to the World Building, I do know that some readers would find it off putting if their not huge culture fanatics. Some people have complained that they were disoriented/confused by the various names and political systems, but I found the seven tribes utterly fascinating and I felt Tara explained them all well enough without ever going into a huge, long, drawn out info dump. Tara also manages to be very lyrical with her prose without it becoming meandering. I always felt rooted in the story.
I liked that Dindi, our heroine, is not only conscious of her differences but embraces them despite insurmountable criticism from her clan. She beats to the tune of her own drums and doesn't give up on her dreams no matter how others might view them. I'm looking forward to seeing how she'll change as a person in the light of the events at the end of Book 1. I have to give it to Tara for being gutsy with her ending. That's all I'll say about that.
While I never got to the point where I "liked" Gwenika, Dindi's friend, I found her relate-able. Her self-sabotage was very interesting in a tragic way.
Kavio, thus far, has the makings of a good hero. I love "lone wolf" heroes. Vindicated, honorable, but rough around the edges.
And yet...I feel my "side-character love" creeping up. Meira, my favorite character (which is to say, the one I found most intriguing) , is the one I can reveal the least about. She almost got my "favorite quote" vote but the one above was simply too deliciously bitter for me to pass up on.
I would recommend this book to Fantasy lovers and lovers of Fairy Tales. And by Fairy Tales, I don't mean those of the watered down Disney variety.
(review of free book)