Lorna Freeman’s first Borderlands novel, Covenants, was aggressively recommended to me by a friend. Once again I was unable to find it at any bookstore, though I did see part 3 once, an improvement on past efforts. After receiving it in the mail along with Fanuilh and a few others, I finally decided to get to it. This was back in April. I began reading it on a business trip to South Carolina, but since my driving partner was quite the talker, I didn’t get much reading done. Thirty pages the whole trip. Maybe. I found myself reading it off and on over the next few months, often reading a chapter early in the morning, then setting the book down. For the most part the chapters are short, so I was able to get one in while getting ready to head to my job that I’ve now left.

I learned while reading that I do not like paperbacks over about 350 pages. This one’s around 550, and my thumbs hurt from holding it open. I’m one of those people who would prefer to keep the spine smooth, so doing so with such a thick book is a challenge. For the most part I managed to keep the book in good shape. There are a couple creases, but you’ll never see them unless you look closely. Can’t feel them either. The cover art on the American release is beautiful with sun warmed clouds and detail in every inch, even deep into the background.

The only thing it’s missing is butterflies. Really.

Our hero, Rabbit, who is not the cat up there, is drawn along for the ride most of the story. The reader is too, wondering what the heck is going on. Whatever it is, there’s plenty of it, both on screen and in the background. This is one of those books you could read multiple times and get more out of it each time. One reading can be a bit overwhelming, and it doesn’t help that Freeman even leaves words for you to figure out, when it wasn’t always necessary. New words work best when they’re for something we don’t have in our world, but when used for every day things (including linking verbs) it can be confusing until you see it enough to figure out from context. I’m pretty sure “sro” was “sir” and “e” was “and,” etc., but even if it adds a bit of flavor to the world, it works better to keep them as what we know. My opinion anyway. The former gets particularly convoluted with how nearly everyone seems determined to refer to people by long titles, here full of book exclusive words.

The story is told from Rabbit’s POV, a rare experience in first person for a fantasy novel. The only other one I can think of off hand is Song in the Silence (and it’s sequels,) but unlike there, this one is all Rabbit, all the time, so we stay as lost as he does for a while. He isn’t going to stop to tell you what’s what, especially if he doesn’t know. We’re pulled into the world as though we understand it.

And he certainly knows a lot, but for a while it has nothing to do with what’s happening. His background becomes more important to the story as it moves along, and we see just how deeply tied he is to many important individuals.

Early on the remains of a sprite and dragon are found (turned into a staff, and shield and tunic respectfully. . .or, disrespectfully?) and this especially doesn’t sit well with Rabbit since he was close friends with them. At that point the story gets rolling and for the most part it doesn’t slow down until the end. When he makes it back to the land where he grew up, and we meet many new characters, the story bogs down a little because there’s so much more to digest, right when everything prior was beginning to take form, including why butterflies keep swirling around him.

There’s plenty of magic, weirdness, and great characters you grow up with over the course of the novel, and I’m quite interested to read the next two to see what happens. Still, there’s an incredible amount of detail in the world, and it’s best to have a few goes at it to fully understand everything. I actually had to do this post with the guidance of a friend who’s more or less an expert on the series. I’ll certainly come back to see what happens to Rabbit in the future.

For now, something a little simpler . . .