When an elemental spirit attacks an incoming windship, murdering the Grand Duke and his retinue, Prince Nikandr, heir to the scepter of Khalakovo, is tasked with finding the child prodigy believed to be behind the summoning. However, Nikandr discovers that the boy is an autistic savant who may hold the key to lifting the blight that has been sweeping the islands. Can the Dukes, thirsty for revenge, be held at bay? Can Khalakovo be saved? The elusive answer drifts upon the Winds of Khalakovo...
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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-02-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Debut novelist Beaulieu paints a detailed and realistic portrayal of individual fates bound up in social responsibilities as well-grounded cultures clash. Prince Nikandr Khalakovo, facing an arranged marriage, also suffers from a wasting disease plaguing the Anuskaya islands. When the rebellious Maharraht loose a fire elemental and kill the visiting Grand Duke Stasa Bolgravya, civil war erupts, and all factions seek to capture a mysterious autistic boy who straddles both the spirit and the material worlds. Beaulieu skillfully juggles elements borrowed from familiar cultures (primarily Russian and Bedouin) as well as telepathy, airborne ships, and magical gems. Viewpoint shifts are occasionally confusing, but the prose is often poetic—airborne skiffs under attack "dropped like kingfishers" and "twisted in the air like maple seeds"—and the characters have welcome depth. (Apr.)