I’m going to be talking about Radiant: The Towers Trilogy by Karina Sumner-Smith. Radiant is the first and only book out of the trilogy at the moment, with the next slated for May.
(Radiant) is greatly out of my normal reading comfort zone. As I’ve said on the blog before, I’m strictly fantasy. I’m going to have trouble talking about it a tad, not sure of the right terms mostly. Also I’m not verse on the genre, so my view may not be the best. So forgive me if I stumble in talking about it. BUT, because I’ve read it and enjoyed it so much – excited for the next one, it did something special surely to break into my comfort zone.
Anyways, let’s talk about it.
Radiant: The Towers Trilogy by Karina Sumner-Smith is put under these labels when I search for it on Amazon: Dystopian, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Paranomal & Urban Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction. I wouldn’t want to claim what it was on my own, cause it’s out of what I normally read. So hopefully that helps. It probably helps that it has magic in it, so it eased me into the genre better.
Here’s the info on the book from Amazon so you know what’s it about from back cover:
Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.
When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.
From start to finish of this book I was interested in the two main characters and the world. Which is a good thing. This is the first book and it has the task of world-building. The story itself hints at how the trilogy will go, and big stuff for sure happens at the end. But, the main drive of the story is really just a tale of survival. Most the book, we follow Xhea as she tries to survive in this world with the different groups of people and some non-people trying to capture her or worse. The main drive is to stay alive and keep out of the wrong hands. There’s no lofty goals or trying to be a hero in most the book. The main thing close to something hero-like is that Xhea refuses to let the ghost Shai suffer a horrible fate worse than her death already.
The story works really well for that though, with a simple drive the world is built around it very nicely. Through their struggle to survive you get to see their world and how it works.
And the tale is very personal too. Through their struggle you get close two these two girls. I grew very attach to them and very much was cheering for them. I cared about them getting out of each trouble they got into. And the writing works very well in making the characters feel personal even with third person viewpoint. By the end of the book, I was at the edge of my seat wanting to see them be alright.
And importantly, you find out. No cliff-hanger in that degree. Luckily.
The world itself was very interesting to me. I know I say ‘world’ but we stay in one city, Lower, and also go to the Towers above the Lower City, But, still that’s world building. The way the world works, is interesting to try to find out. The world is built around on the magic levels in each person, most everything works (like doors and such) by acknowledging the magic in a person and the magic a person produces is used as their money. People in the lower city produce less magic in their body. But everyone produces some, well aside from one in the normal sense.
The only paranormal things, to touch on that label Amazon gave, is ghosts and zombie-like creatures. (The zombies, as far as we know, only come out at night and only in the Lower City. It’s not really a zombie book. People live normal lives, and just make sure to be inside with locked doors.)
Nothing else like vamps or werewolves. Which I’m glad for, I tend to dislike those paranormal creatures in fantasy books I read.
The Post-Apocalyptic tag is best explained, or how I see it I guess, is something akin to our cities are destroyed. People mostly can’t go underground, to the malls or subways down there, anyone who does gets sick and has pain. Magic-low people can get down some with drugs, and really only our non-magic main character can without no problems.
So whatever reason, the people of the now can’t go down.
In this new world, everyone has magic, and their are cities ‘Towers’ In the sky that are pretty much well off and powerful.
The characters are good. They both have flaws and have different strengths, and use them to help them survive. They are people. The two girls are also growing a friendship, if a tad troubled. But they are never against each other, they understand the trouble they are in, and try to work together and even get to know each other. Their relationship is awesome to see go up and down. It’s a complex but yet simple relationship.
Neither are perfect. They will make mistakes, but not ones that make you go ‘what that’s stupid’ (well there is one, but it’s understandable because that was the point). You’ll always see the logic, even if flawed, of why they did something. Mostly how the past has shaped them. And this tale of struggle let’s you get close to them.
So, in the end. That’s the best I can tell you. I will say I very much enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to the next book.
Till next time.