During his coming-of-age ceremony, Naysin of the Lepane tribe discovers his father is not who he was told, and that in fact he’s of somewhat supernatural origin. The revelation causes his tribe to exile both him and his mother. The lad discovers he can do magic and talk to the spirits of his fathers (there are two of them) but his life is miserable, and gets worse when he’s enslaved by white men from across the sea. As the native peoples are decimated by disease and war, and the white men spread across the land, he struggles to understand and use his powers for good.
This well-written story is engaging from the start, well-edited and very readable. It’s a bit episodic and disconnected as Naysin wanders from crisis to crisis while growing up and mastering his abilities, and the climax is a little rushed, but overall it’s a good read.
I particularly liked that Naysin’s acquisition of magic powers didn’t turn him into a morally unambiguous super-hero. He’s young, and badly treated by almost everyone. He has to learn how to use his powers. He tries to help people, but messes up, often doing more harm than good.
The setting is an alternate Earth to allow the author to re-invent history and geography to fit the needs of the story, which is a little disconcerting at first.