Roots of Rookeri by Crispina Kemp

My monthly newsletter book reviews can be found on my Reviews of what I’m reading page. But as I read more than one book a month, I leave other reviews here on my blog. They also get posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Boody, the orphaned nephew of the Elect of Raselstadt, is happy being a playwright and producing his plays in Rookeri Gardens to entertain the people. Eshe is content when her father, the judge, decides she will become judge in his place and not need to marry, and he has just the right job lined up for her to undertake first.
In the Citadel of Lecheni, wealthy heiress Sifadis wishes only to pursue her scholarly ambitions. But her position requires her to marry, and hopefully produce the long-elusive male heir to her house of Shore. But Sifadis has earned the hatred of the mad priest of the Runmen, Kalamite, who protects his ever-unseen queen – his mother – within a wooden tower and is nurtured by her.

When Kalamite learns of an upcoming triple eclipse and what it portends, he sets in motion events which lead the reader on a merry dance within and across the two countries, and which have far reaching implications for Boody, Sifadis and Eshe, all intent on their own missions.

Roots of Rookeri is available here

I know from Kemp’s Spinner’s Game books what a talent she is at world-building, albeit that world is set firmly in our own, with some fascinating additional elements. Roots of Rookeri is pure fantasy, although there are references to recognisable places in the Old World, which the Founders of this world fled. The detail of the new world is intricate, with its natural dangers, different customs and political and belief systems. It’s a lot to take in, especially given Kemp uses many fabricated words which the reader learns the meaning of as they go along. But I soon got into the swing of it, helped by the underlying sense of humour which suggested the author had so much fun writing this book. And then the depths of the characters, the intricacies of the plot and the way the tangles are unknotted bit by bit, took me right into the story, keen to discover how this was all going to work out.

A clever book, with brilliant and original characters, a richly detailed world, and a story which kept me turning those pages.