Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani is a fast-moving tale of adventure and escape. The heroine, Hitomi, is a member of the Shadow Conspiracy, a group dedicated to overthrowing the Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame and bringing peace back to her home. She is also an unregistered and (officially) untrained magic-user, which is very much against the law. An attempt to help prisoners escape leads to her being captured, learning secrets, and having to find her way in a place far from home.
Khanani writes a tale full of twists and turns, bringing in multiple elements. Not only are the humans of Karolene multi-cultural, something still entirely too rare in fantasy fiction, there are non-humans in the mix as well, and they, too, have their plans in motion. Although there were a couple of moments that reminded me strongly of Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, Khanini takes Sunbolt off on its own direction. It is a gripping tale; I read it in one sitting because I wanted to know what happened next.
Karolene, the setting for much of the tale, is a multi-cultural, colorful world. Khanani has created an alternate world that leans far more heavily on India than on the more standard European medieval setting. It is a colorful land, and Khanani makes it clear why Hitomi loves it and wants so badly to see it free again.
Sunbolt is very much a first installment of The Sunbolt Chronicles. It ends before any of the many threads begin to pull together and with only one problem partially solved. I look forward to the continuation of the story in Memories of Ash. Sunbolt is recommended to fans of fast-moving fantasy adventures.
Sunbolt is available now: