Winged raptors, deadly sand-warriors, and a rebellious girl who breaks all the rules.
Sixteen-year-old Kiva Fariq has always dreamed of soaring on the four-winged raptors that scour the desert skies. But the windwalker sect is closed off to women. What’s more, the flying predators are said to kill any woman attempting to bond them.
Undeterred, Kiva attempts the perilous windwalker trials in secret. Should she survive, she will face an even greater challenge: bonding a raptor of her own. When signs of an ancient enemy appear upon the plains, she desires more than ever to protect her people. But the threat is closer than anyone realizes, and will soon bury them all in a tomb of sand and stone—unless she can stop it.
Goodreads Link: Windwalker: Forbidden Flight (Windwalker #1)
Author: H. G. Chambers
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
Sometimes, you just want a fun, straight-forward read about a young hero who defies tradition and saves the day. Windwalker delivers a rendition of this classic tale with fast-paced action and thrilling flights. As a bonus, the world is definitely not a generic European medieval setting, with a unique culture with people of color. There are also unique creatures like the kiraeen, enormous birds of prey which can be tamed and ridden by those chosen to join the windwalker sect.
The main character, Kiva, has always dreamed of becoming a windwalker, but girls are forbidden from joining the windwalker sect. There is a strict gender division of labor in her society with boys allowed to train for combat roles like windwalker or shadestalker, but girls can only join groups like the weavers. On her town’s challenge day, when young adults are all trying to prove themselves and join their chosen sect, Kiva disguises herself and makes the climb to the kiraeen’s nesting grounds. Her success sets off a ripple of change as other women are inspired to speak up for equal representation.
This is a short book with a straightforward plot that I read in about two sittings, but it isn’t short on details. There was lots of information about the kiraeen, the structure of Sahra’ society, Kiva’s family, and the roles that men and women play. There was also realistic arguments as women protested for equal rights. Instead of just portraying all men as misogynistic, there are a variety of viewpoints in the society and people come to a compromise over time.
But the main action is focused on Kiva training to become a windwalker and learning how to fly on a kiraeen. I loved all the details about how the warriors bond with their birds and fight together. The one thing I wanted to know more about was their enemies, the sharun, who don’t show up until the very end. But I think there will be more information in future books.
I recommend this to fans of young adult female-led fantasy like Alanna aka the Song of the Lioness series, the Dragonriders of Pern series, The Deed of Paksenarrion, and The Blue Sword.