Earlier this month, in a great post at the Spacefreighters Lounge, Donna Frelick wrote about the role of weather in SciFi and SciFi Romance. Reading that post reminded me of a book I read a couple of years ago. It is one of my favorites due to the very original treatment of weather which becomes a vital character in the story.
In The Rains of Imarcia, the perilous and sometimes fatal rainstorms of the world are critical to the plot. Three different types of rain fall on Imarcia. Contact with the rain must be avoided. The results can be horrific. One is painful and can kill. One can make you insane. And the third turns a person into a monster. And yet, as on any world, rain provides water for drinking and for plants and crops and is integral to well-being of Imarcia.
In comparison, Windrunner Sey and Rainwatcher Namaru seem to be almost secondary characters, but they are what makes the story proceed over time. Sey and Namaru both play key roles and it is through them that you develop respect and a deep appreciation of the world of Imarcia.
A windrunner can fly. Run with the wind. Literally. Even between planets, where there is no wind, a windrunner travels without benefit of any spacefaring technology. Sey is more than a windrunner. She is also a messenger. She is tasked with preventing a war between two cities. She has no experience, only training and Imarcia is her first assignment. Her mission is difficult, but Sey is hopeful and determined. Sey is the one I cheered for.
The rainwatchers of Imarcia are responsible for predicting the weather patterns and advising their people of when to plant, when to reap and when to stay inside sheltered from the rain. Namaru is the only Rainwatcher that has never been wrong. His abilities have allowed Elarrc to build and strengthen in the relatively few years he has been Rainwatcher. Now, his biggest challenge is the neighboring city of Renaci. Plotting to remove the threat that Renaci represents, Namaru struggles to work with the Windrunner without revealing his plans. Regardless of his intent, Namaru admires and respects Sey and struggles with the deceit he must practice in dealing with her. Namaru is an admirable leader, but his deceitful approach makes him a character to be suspicious of.
The conflict between the two cites of Elarrc and Renaci appears straight-forward at first. Both exist in a harsh world, but one city seems rich and the other quite poor. As the story progresses, the reasons for the lack of cooperation gain in number and in complexity. The way Ms. Croke revealed the details of the political relationship of the two cities was precise, direct and ultimately satisfying.
I was absolutely fascinated by the story that unfolded between Sey and Namaru and between Elarrc and Renaci. Marie Croke’s The Rains of Imarcia is truly unique and fresh. I found it to be engrossing, heartbreaking and uplifting!
With 3 reviews on Amazon and 1 on Goodreads (those numbers include my own review at both sites), The Rains of Imarcia does not appear to be a widely read book. I really don’t know why. It is kind of a cross between SciFi and Fantasy, but is hard to pin down to a genre. So maybe marketing proved to be problematic. Marie Croke’s website has not been active since 2012 so perhaps she is not even writing anymore. But her book is still for sale, so I’d really like to get the word out on this book. I will recommend The Rains of Imarcia to anyone who enjoys other world fantasy.
5 Stars – I loved it!