What I always loved about fantasy books are the great worlds that are created. Fantasy writers not only have to create great stories and characters, but they also create whole worlds from scratch. They create gods and religions, great and small societies, vast histories...it takes a lot of imaginations and creativity. And in this book...it was what I loved the most. Very interesting world.
In this world water is scarce and very valuable. Most people are born with a fixed amount of water allowed to them, called their allotment. This is earned through their position in life, circumstances, etc, and it is high regulated. Of course many poor people, who have no influence or power are born without water allotments, the "waterless." They scrap by earning a living wherever they can so they can earn enough money to buy water for themselves and their families. Water is managed by people with the unique ability to control and sense it, called water sensitives. Some have abilities are greater than others and depending on that strength, these water sensitives are given duties to mange and hands out the water to people that are allowed it. The people with the greatest powers can become Rainlords or Stormlords. These people can not only sense water and manipulate it, but they can create rain and send this rain to areas that need it.
When we begin this tale, the Stormlords have been dying out. For many generations there have been many strong enough to be Stormlords and bring the rain needed to keep the cities of the Quartern running. But in the last generation, all those strong enough have either died from illness or accident. Now only one Stormlord remains and he is old and dying. He cannot bring enough rain to keep the entire Quartern watered by himself and the amount of water available has been dwindling with time. This has lead to unrest and harsh policies to preserve water (forced abortions, punishment of death for water stealing). Even going as far as to stop bringing rain to whole areas...mainly the poor areas with people who have no water allotment. So, the Stormlord sends his best Rainlords out to the poorest quarter, the Gibber quarter, to search for any children who have even the smallest bit of water sensitivity to see if they can find the next Stormlord. They have searched high and wide in every other area, so he thinks there have nothing to lose. This is where we are introduced to Shale our main hero and when our adventure starts. Shale and Terelle find themselves between two major parties that have no interest in preserving the current system, but only in controlling the water and anyone who can manipulate it. Both bringing them ultimate power. Both characters are used and manipulated by different sources for their own ends and realize they can't trust anyone but themselves.
Shale and Terelle are both from the Gibber quarter and despite their different upbringings they both share one thing: they were both born waterless. So they have lived harsh lives and struggled day by day to survive in the box they are in. Through them you can see how harsh the system they live in is for people who have nothing and how easily these people can be abused and taken advantage of by those in power. You also see how those in power lose touch with actual everyday life and make decisions about the welfare of the entire world without a care in how terrible their decisions are for others. The book kept building on the action and each chapter and did a great job in making you relate to these two characters right up until the end...and the cliffhanger (now I have another series to read). By the end I was very much looking forward to how this story would continue and what would happen to both characters as well as some of the other minor characters we were introduced too. Great story, great world creation, and good characters. I was happy with this book.