"An exciting fantasy adventure tale.” –Booklist, STARRED Review
Deeply immersive, this penetrating tale of magic, faith and self-determination is the brilliant sequel to Kelly Braffet’s The Unwilling
Judah the Foundling chose freedom over betrayal when she leaped from the top of the castle tower. Now she finds herself wandering an unknown forest, far from everything and everyone she loves. For the first time in her life, she’s beyond the great Wall that surrounds Highfall castle; for the first time, she’s alone. Away from the Seneschal, the power behind the throne; away from Nate Clare, the House Magus who was her teacher, friend, betrayer. Away from her foster brother, Gavin, with whom she has a mysterious bond that has kept them together—and kept her alive.
But Judah isn’t free. Fiercely sought by those who believe she holds the key to unlocking the power trapped in the world, she must learn to navigate the dangers of an unfamiliar place. She knows that somewhere, Gavin is in peril. To save him, she not only must learn to use the new power she discovers inside herself, she must survive.
The Barrier Lands
Book 1: The Unwilling
Book 2: The Broken Tower
Braffet expands the world of The Unwilling in her powerful and often heartbreaking second Barrier Lands fantasy, moving many of her viewpoint characters outside the capitalist dystopia of Highfall. Judah the Foundling and Lord Gavin, Highfall's heir, are magically linked such that each shares the other's pain. At the end of the previous volume, Judah cast herself from a magical tower and now she finds herself in a white featureless expanse which gradually resolves into a strange forest. Two travelers, Lukash and Cleric, nurse her back to health as she journeys with them far from Highfall, discovering that in moments of peril she can enter "the white" and manipulate it to perform marvelous feats. Meanwhile, Gavin and his betrothed, Eleanor of Tiernan, are held captive outside of the city by the Seneschal, who has overthrown the ruling family and enforces Dickensian working conditions. The pair are "rescued" by Eleanor's brother Eduard and taken to Tiernan, where her eldest brother, Angen, who abused Eleanor in her youth, plots to rule Highfall with Gavin as a figurehead. Through these and other characters, Braffet explores the interplay of suffering and power, both temporal and mystical. Despite this focus, none of her scrappy characters feel like hapless victims. A strong cast and excellent worldbuilding will sell this to epic fantasy fans.