I picked up [b:The Whitefire Crossing|10928630|The Whitefire Crossing (Shattered Sigil, #1)|Courtney Schafer|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347985324s/10928630.jpg|15845701] a while ago - I had seen it mentioned on r/fantasy a few times, and really enjoyed Courtney Schafer's AMA, as well as random comments and conversations I'd seen her have online. The book's premise interested me, and the mountaineering aspect was something you don't see a ton of in fantasy. I nominated the book for the r/Fantasy Book Club's July book of the month, and was thrilled to see it win, and numerous people pick up the book and help discuss it.
To describe how I felt about TWC in one word: shocked. Shocked that it was this
good. First time novels are always a dicey proposition, especially ones that are on a mid-sized publisher and there isn't a massive review base for. However, Courtney seemed well-thought-of in the community and the book interested me. However, I wasn't prepared for the level of excitement, the twists and turns of the plotline, the depth of the characters or the quality of the writing. The book was very professionally written, felt real and visceral, the characters reacting in ways that seemed to make sense for their characters, not arbitrarily making decisions for the sake of the plot. The dialogue was realistic and witty, and the character conflicts felt solid.
The magic system in the novel wasn't anything groundbreaking, but it worked perfectly
for what it needed to in this novel, and was more than adequately presented as extremely powerful and very scary. The mages are borderline omnipotent when left with their powers unchecked, and the blood mages in particular were scary as hell. The antagonists had a very hard edge to them, and their evil deeds presented and left for judgement.
The mountaineering was an aspect that both excited and concerned me - Courtney's climbing and outdoors background is well documented, and I did have a bit of concern that the climbing aspects would be overdone, hard to follow, far too prevalent. The opposite was true - it made for a very nice augment, a bit of something different in the story, as well as something that moved the plot along. Courtney's love for climbing and the outdoors is very apparent, however is not something you're bludgeoned with. The actual mountaineering is easy to follow and not overly technical, presented in a manner that is digestible for those of us who would just rather not be hanging off the side of a cliff for funsies.
Overall, I honestly loved
this book. I blasted through it in general (in what little reading time I've had of late), and looked forward to the next time I could read it. I had a couple late nights because I couldn't put it down, and the final 75 pages absolutely flew by last night. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to people.