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The Mountain of Kept Memory


The Mountain of Kept Memory

Fantasy is peppered with subgenres galore, but you can’t ever get tired of good old epic fantasy, right? In Rachel Neumeier’s THE MOUNTAIN OF KEPT MEMORY, the epic fantasy tropes are all-too-familiar and the characters dull, making for a rather slow read, but the magical system manages to be new, fresh and intriguing.

Oressa, princess of the kingdom of Carastind, likes to eavesdrop. As the book opens, she’s hidden underneath her father’s throne, listening in on some dire news: A rival kingdom is about to invade. From here on, the plot moves forward at a breakneck pace that doesn’t allow the reader time to get to know the characters or setting and really care about them. The author doesn’t give us any reason --- or time --- to sympathize with Oressa, who’s about to be sacrificed as a political pawn, before she’s off careening on another caper to save her realm as only she can. Oressa is too perfect on the outside and half-baked on the inside.

"Where this novel in its magical and theological systems."

The version of Oressa that Neumeier gives us is a spoiled, whiny heroine who readers can’t help but dislike. When she hears that Carastind is about to be invaded, she isn’t worried about her people suffering or the fate of her family. Instead, she’s too busy coming up with hare-brained schemes to save the day (which somehow proves that this immature royal is smarter than everyone else), worrying about the fate of the royal palace (seriously), or hating her father for some unspecified reason. Oressa comes across as ultimately unlikable, making it hard to root for her to save Carastind.

The real hero here is Oressa’s brother, Prince Gulien, who does get his own character study. Unlike his bold, brash sister, he’s timid, a victim of his father’s manipulations, and he has clear obstacles to overcome. He’s not a perfect Prince Charming, but a deeply flawed young man who’s often stuck between a rock and a hard place. Now, if he were the focus of the story, MOUNTAIN might be a much more successful story.

Where this novel shines, however, is in its magical and theological systems. Consisting of dead deities and the Kieba, an ice-cold ex-goddess who’s supposed to help save Carastind, the nebulous Powers That Be in this world are endlessly fascinating. When Gulien goes to the Kieba’s mountain to court her favor, one can’t help but be enthralled by this divinity and the many mysteries she hides. Her helper, the enigmatic kephalos, and her creatures, including a giant war spider, are nothing short of brilliant.

Ultimately, though, the bright points in Neumeier’s novel are dimmed by her lackluster heroine and rushed plotlines, which cause the plot to lag.

Reviewed by Carly Silver on November 18, 2016

The Mountain of Kept Memory
by Rachel Neumeier

  • Publication Date: November 14, 2017
  • Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Saga Press
  • ISBN-10: 1481448951
  • ISBN-13: 9781481448956