The first in a sweeping and action-packed debut fantasy duology loosely inspired by the early climbers of Mt. Everest—perfect for fans of Cindy Pon and Alison Goodman. Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.
But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition.
This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.
The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.
When royal explorer River Shara arrives in Azmiri seeking a navigator to help him retrieve a talisman from the top of Raksha, the world's highest mountain, 17-year-old Kamzin is elated: she and her older sister, Lusha, are the only ones who know the way to Raksha, and Kamzin is the stronger climber. To Kamzin's dismay, River chooses Lusha to be his guide, but then Lusha and the expedition's official chronicler disappear with half of River's supplies. Certain that the duo seeks to beat him to the summit, River recruits Kamzin and her best friend, Tem, to join him and races north to catch them. Though the trek proves perilous, Kamzin refuses to turn back partly due to sibling rivalry, and partly because she knows that Lusha won't survive an attempted ascent. Deftly drawn characters and a richly imagined fictional universe distinguish Fawcett's debut, first in a planned duology. Abundant adventure drives the pace, a love triangle fuels conflict while adding romance, and Kamzin's familiar a mischievous fox named Ragtooth provides humor and heart. Ages 13 up.