River Secrets -- Shannon Hale

It's been a great reading week for me:  I got to re-visit the Casson family, which is always a joyful experience; I got to meet (and develop big fat crushes on) some new, fabulous John Green creations; and I was able to return to Bayern and Tira, to Isi, Enna, Finn and Razo.  All that and it's only Wednesday.  Yay July.

River SecretsFans of The Goose Girl and Enna Burning will do a happy dance when River Secrets is released.  Then they'll finish the book and do more happy dancing.  They might even do some happy dancing WHILE they read the book.  I did.  (Also I did a bit of crying, but it was HAPPY crying.)

River Secrets is the story of Razo, who was a (very) minor character in The Goose Girl and who was originally supposed to continue being a (V)MC in Enna Burning.  According to Shannon Hale's Reader's Note, Razo "wormed his way" into a more significant role in Enna Burning.  She'd never planned on giving him his own book.  But, as she said, he's insistent.

Unlike Isi and Enna, Razo doesn't speak the language of wind or fire.  He isn't an amazing fighter like Finn.  He's flabbergasted but happy (and yes, nervous) when he's chosen to be one of the few people sent to Tira with the ambassadorial contingent.*  Most of his fellow soldiers assume he's been chosen because he's a friend of the queen.  Frankly, Razo assumes the same.

But he's wrong.  Talone, Razo's captain, wanted him along because he thinks that Razo has the makings of a great spy.

River Secrets is full of action, intrigue and romance.  It's classic Shannon Hale -- superb writing, likable characters and a world that I wouldn't mind stepping into.  It's set in a whole new country, with a whole new culture and a whole new set of dangers.  The magic system is the same -- without giving anything else away, I will say that the title is significant. 

*(For those who haven't read the first two books:  In Enna Burning, Tira attempted to invade and conquer Bayern.  Tira's defeat was mostly due to Enna, who set fire to their soldiers.  The people of Tira don't know the identity of the fire-witch who basically killed half of their army.  If they realized that she was among them, that she was with the ambassadors... well, it would be bad. I wouldn't suggest reading River Secrets without reading the first two, which you should read anyway because they're wonderful.)